It was a mixed day for the two-member Indian table tennis team at the second Asian Youth Games here Sunday as Abhishek Yadav entered the quarterfinals while it was curtains for Suthirtha Mukherjee.
Yadav defeated Iran's Soroosh Amiri Nia 4-2 (6-11, 4-11, 117, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8) in a 44-minute pre-quarterfinal duel.
The Indian, competing at the Games as an Independent Olympic Athletic under OCA flag following the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), was slow to start with, losing the first two games in just 11 minutes.
Yadav will meet Malaysian Dunley Foo in the quarter-finals slated for Monday. Foo subdued Japanese Tonin Ruzakiy 4-3 in the pre-quarterfinals.
Yadav upped the ante in the next two rather comfortably to restore parity. But in the fifth game, he trailed 1-5 before making a steady progress to level the score at 7-all.
From there on, it dragged for a while as both the Iranian and the Indian were level at 9-9. With serve on, the Indian simply shut out the Iranian challenge to go 3-2 up.
That was the indication for Yadav to go all out in the next game as he ran up a good lead at 5-1. But Nia managed to bring himself back into the match by reducing the margin to mere two points.
However, the day belonged to the Indian who increased the lead to four points at 10-6.
Serving for the game and match, he made errors at the net and sent one out to allow his opponent two crucial points.
But Nia returned the compliment on his service and the Indian, without wasting any time, clinched the points with a forehand scorcher.
"The fifth game was crucial. The moment I won it, I grew in confidence and went all out in the sixth. My attacking game paid dividends," said the left-handed Yadav.
For the fifth seeded Suthirtha, it was all over for the Kolkata youngster as she failed to match the guile of Seul Lee or Korea who won 4-0 (11-7, 11-7, 13-11, 11-4).
The Korean took just 28 minutes to clean up Suthirtha who, despite going neck and neck in the first two games at 6-6, lost the initiative.
In the third she fought valiantly but the Korean clinched the game at 13-11. In the next the Indian's drooping shoulders told the tale as the Korean finished the game in just four minutes.