Asian Games: Indian men, women paddlers begin on winning note

IMAGE: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Achanta Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai powered India to a 3-0 victory against Yemen in the Asian Games on Friday. Photograph: SAI Media/X

The Indian paddlers began their campaign at the Asian Games on a rousing note with both the men and women teams registering wins in their respective preliminary group matches in Hangzhou on Friday.

The men’s team started off with a facile 3-0 victory over Yemen and then got the better of Singapore 3-1 in their second Group F tie.


In their first tie of the Games, veteran Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai made short work of their Yemenese opponents to notch straight game victories. 

Sathiyan set the ball rolling as he defeated Ali Omar Ahmed 11-3 11-2 11-6 in 14 minutes.

The 41-year-old Sharath, playing his last Asian Games, then beat Ebrahim Abdulhakim Mohamm Gubran 11-3 11-4 11-6 to double India’s lead.

The country’s top-ranked player Harmeet sealed the tie with an 11-1 11-1 11-7 win over Magd Ahmed Ali Aldhubhani.

In their second tie of the day against Singapore, Sathiyan beat Izaac Young Quek 5-11 12-10 11-6 11-9, while Harmeet had to dig deep to get past Yew En Koen Pang 12-10 11-8 6-11 6-11 11-5.

Sharath, however, lost to Zhe Yu Clarence Chew 11-13 8-11 12-10 5-11 to hand Singapore some breathing space.

But Sathiyan ensured India continued their winning streak, beating Pang 11-7 10-12 11-9 11-6.

The Indian women paddlers too had a good day in office as they defeated Singapore 3-2 in their opening Pool F fixture.

It was not a perfect start for the Indian women as Ayhika Mukherjee lost 11-7 2-11 7-11 10-12 to Jian Zeng.

But Manika Batra drew the scores level for India, defeating Jingyi Zhou 11-9 9-11 11-7 11-3 and then Sreeja Akula gave India the lead with a fighting 12-14 11-9 8-11 11-9 11-7 win over Xin Ru Wong.

Singapore took the tie into the decider when Batra lost 3-11 11-3 10-12 12-10 10-12 to Zeng. But Mukherjee ensured a positive start for the Indian women by a registering 11-7 11-8 9-11 11-5 over Zhou.

While the Indian men will take on Tajikistan in their next group match, the women will be up against Nepal in their second tie.

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