Manama:Â India were assured of their first ever medal in the team event of the World Junior Table Tennis Championships when they beat fancied South Korea 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the junior boys category here Monday.
World No. 25 Soumyajit Ghosh got India their maiden individual medal in the last edition of the Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia winning the bronze in the mixed doubles. And the Bengal paddler played a crucial role in getting the team through to the last four.
The Indian boys, seeded fifth, edged out the fourth seed Koreans after a marathon battle that lasted two-and-a-half hours. They next face the mighty Chinese in the semifinals Tuesdsay.
The match could have gotten over earlier with India taking a 2-0 lead but the gritty Koreans fought back to take it right down to the wire.
Harmeet Desai, ranked one place below Ghosh, defeated Chan-Hyeok Park 13-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5 in the first singles. His perseverance against the attacking Korean paid off as he wore his opponent down.
Ghosh then played a brilliant match to double India’s lead. He beat World No.21 Kim Dong Hyun 11-8, 11-9, 11-9.
The twist in the match came when G.Sathiyan lost to Baek Kwang 5-11, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11 in the third Singles and Desai went down to 2-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-14 to take the match into the decider.
India’s hopes were now pinned on Ghosh and he did not disappoint. Though his natural game is attacking, Ghosh nicely mixed caution with aggression to come out triumphant against Park Chan-Hyeok 7-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7.
“It was a really close match. We thought we would throw it away after a 2-0 lead but Soumyajit did for us,” Choudhary told IANS.
“The boys did not go into the match thinking it was a higher-ranked team. They played to their potential and the stint in Sweden has certainly brought improvement in their game. Beating China is a daunting task but I am sure they will give their hundred percent,” said Choudhary about Ghosh and Harmeet, who are undergoing a six-month training under former doubles world champion Peter Karlsson.
Earlier, the boys blanked Egypt 3-0 to enter the last eight.
The Indian girls are out of the medal contention and will be playing in the 9-16 position matches.
It was also the first time that India boys and girls qualified for the World Championships since the first edition in Santiago, Chile in 2003.