anukram jain

Paddler Anukram Jain. (India Table Tennis Federation photo)

NEW DELHI (IANS) — The Indian boys entered the final of the 22nd Asian Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Championships at Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia Sept. 3, beating South Korea 3-2 to ensure a silver medal for the team and also directly qualify for the World Junior Championships to be held at Korat, Thailand in November this year.

Earlier, China blanked out Taipei 3-0. It will take on India in the final Sept. 4.

The top three teams at the continental event qualify for the Worlds but with no third-place playoff, the third team's fate will be decided on the individual players' performance from Tapei and Korea — the bronze medalists — and other teams, including Japan. In the individual events, which begin Sept. 5, Japanese players stand a good chance to qualify as the third squad for the Worlds.

This was the second consecutive final for the Junior Boys, who are seeded No. 2 behind China. It was achieved when Anukram Jain, playing the third singles in the semi-finals, did what Harmeet Desai had done in the World Championships to put India in the Championships Division, and once again in the Commonwealth Championships this July in Cuttack, to help the Indian men win gold.

Though India's No. 1 junior player Manush Shah, ranked No. 7 in the world, gave a winning start defeating Park Gyuhyeon 5-11, 11-6, 15-13, 11-1 in the tough opener, the second-best Raegan Albuquerque lost the second singles tamely to Korea's Kim Woojin 6-11, 5-11, 10-12. It was then that Jain played the game-changer against Lee Gihun.

Earlier, the Junior Girls bowed out in the quarterfinals losing 0-3 to Japan, while in the Cadet section, both the Indian boys and girls teams failed to enter the main draw.

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