Sharath loses; Indian challenge ends

Sharath Kamal showed flashes of brilliance, but eventually lost to Shuai Hao in the quarterfinals.

Sharath Kamal showed flashes of brilliance, but eventually lost to Shuai Hao in the quarterfinals.  

Rakesh Rao

NEW DELHI: A. Sharath Kamal is on a learning curve. This lanky Indian hope may have fallen short of reaching the semifinals of the ONGC Asian Cup table tennis tournament but gave a very encouraging account of himself at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium here on Monday.

Sharath, ranked 161 in the world, produced flashes of sheer brilliance to take the opening game off World number 15 China's Shuai Hao before being overpowered in five games, losing 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4.

Earlier in the day, Sharath had his chances against Hong Kong's LI Ching, ranked 23rd in the world, but lost in four games in the last best-of-five-game league match.

In the other three men's quarterfinals, Li Ching, top seeded Chinese Wang Hao and Singapore's Chinese import Yang Zi lived up to their pre-match billing.

Coming back to Sharath's display, the Indian surprised Hao Shuai with his early belligerence to open up a 9-2 lead in the opening game and eventually won it to eight. However, the Chinese was quick to sort out his starting trouble and began asserting himself by accumulating points by shifting his line of attack from the flanks to the middle of the table. In fact, Hao Shuai ran up leads of 8-3 in the second and fifth games, 9-5 in the third and 10-5 in the fourth to keep Sharath at bay.

After all, the difference of 149 ranking places between the players had to show up. "I think the biggest gain of the day was that I could attack against these two much-higher ranked players. I know the areas I need to work on to go up the World ranking list and will be working very hard in the coming year," said Sharath, who aims to break into the top-100 in 2006.

Consolation win for Mouma

Earlier, the Indian challenge in the women's section ended with Mouma Das and Poulomi failing to make the semifinals. Mouma, however, had the consolation of winning her final league match against unranked Japanese Chiharu Yamazaki to finish fourth in the five-player group `B'. The victory was worth $400 for Mouma since it helped her find a place in the 5-8 positions. Poulomi slipped to the last position in Group `A' and stayed out of the prize-list. Poulomi, after surrendering to top seed Guo Yan in straight games, still had fancied an outside chance of finishing the top-eight if Malaysia's Ng Sock Khim defeated Nozomi Hasama. But once the Japanese posted a 3-1 victory, there was a three-way tie for the third place in the group. Since Poulomi had won least number of games, she was placed last.

The results: Men: Quarterfinals: Wang Hao (Chn) bt Koi Lai Chak (Hkg) 11-5, 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9; Li Ching (Hkg) bt Takanori Shimoyama (Jpn) 11-9, 11-6, 12-10, 11-6; Yang Zi (Sin) bt Kim Sang Soo (Kor) 11-1, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7; Hao Shuai (Chn) bt A. Sharath Kamal (Ind) 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4. League: Group `A': Wang Hao bt Soumyadeep Roy (Ind) 11-9, 11-8, 11-8. Group `B': Hao Shuai bt Takanori Shimoyama 11-8, 11-4, 11-5. Group `C': Li Ching bt Sharath 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6. Group `D': Yang Zi bt Ko Lai Chak 11-5, 9-11, 3-11, 11-9, 12-10.

Women: League: Group `A': Guo Yan (Chn) bt Poulomi Ghatak (Ind) 11-2, 11-6, 11-3; Zhang Rui (Hkg) bt Nozomi Hasama (11-5, 11-9, 11-6; Guo Yan bt Zhang Rui (Hkg) 11-7, 11-5, 13-11; Hasama bt Ng. Sock Khim 11-5, 3-11, 13-11, 11-8. Group `B': Tie Yana (Hkg) bt Tan Pey Fern (Sin) 11-8, 11-8, 11-7; Li Xiaoxia (Chn) bt Mouma Das (Ind) 11-6, 11-7, 11-8; Li Xiaoxia bt Tie Yana (Chn) 11-4, 11-7, 11-5; Mouma bt Chiharu Yamazaki (Jpn) 11-7, 11-8, 4-11, 11-5.

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