Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: India’s Junior Boys’ team failed to cross the last hurdle and went down 0-3 to top-seeded China in the final of 25th Asian Junior and Cadet Championships, that Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, today.
However by virtue of having finished second, the boys have qualified for the World Junior Championships to be held at Korat (Thailand) in November later this year.
Team coach Brett Clarke, changed his game plan and began the proceedings with Raegan Albuquerque and it didn’t work as the Mumbai lad went down to Xu Yingbin 7-11, 8-11, 9-11. Raegan failed to control his game and became an easy meat for his Chinese opponent.
No. 1 player, Manush Shah, was patchy to begin with against world No. 6 Xiang Peng who, despite dropping his second game, played brilliantly to beat the Indian left-hander 7-11, 12-10, 5-11, 9-11.
However, the fast-paced match saw excellent rallies, especially in the second game when Manush Shah picked up his momentum after levelling 2-2 and then going up 7-4. But Peng was too good to capitalise on some crucial winners to level 9-9 and at deuce it was anybody’s game. But one fine down-the-line shot from the Indian brought him closer to victory as the Chinese sent the ball out on his serve. Going 2-1 up, the game was over for the Indian as the Chinese upped the ante to put China 2-0 ahead.
In the third singles, Anukram Jain failed to match the guile and speed of his Chinese rival, Liu Yebo, who simply worn him down 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 to complete the task.