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Sharath Kamal is defeated by Ma Long of China in Round 3 of Table Tennis - Men's Singles

Veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal goes down fighting to legendary Ma Long. Despite losing the best-of-seven match in five games, the fact that Sharath seemed to have rattled Long for a majority of the 46-minute duration underlines the Indian veteran’s prowess.

Indian paddler Sharath Kamal took a game off the legendary Ma Long, the reigning Olympic and world champion, before making a third-round exit from the table tennis competition at the Tokyo Games on Tuesday (July 27). Sharath fought tooth and nail to take the second game from Long but eventually lost 7-11, 11-8, 11-13, 4-11, 4-11 in 46 minutes. With the defeat, India’s challenge has ended in table tennis at the Games. Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee, and G Stahiyan have all exited the singles competition.

The tactics worked as Long appeared to be rattled in the second game. Despite trailing 1-0, Sharath opened up an 8-4 lead, Long closed it down to 8-7 and Soumyadeep Roy, the India coach, called a time-out from Sharath’s corner. A backhand error from Sharath at 8-8 gave Long the advantage but the Indian did not let him close out the game easily. Long took a time out while leading 12-11 and came back to seal the third game and take a 2-1 lead.

A flurry of errors from Sharath and some better hitting from Long put the Indian behind 0-6, a lead from where a comeback was not easy against a player of Long’s caliber. From an intense contest, it suddenly became a drab one-sided affair with Sharath struggling to keep pace with Long.


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