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Continuing their winning run, defending champions India reached the semifinals of the men's table tennis team event at the Commonwealth Games 2022 with a 3-0 clean sweep of Bangladesh in the quarterfinals, here on Sunday.
The Indian men's team fielded its top-ranked players Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai for the first doubles match against Ramhimlian Bawm and Mohutasin Ahmed Ridoy at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre.
The Indian duo of Sathiyan and Harmeet was clinical and won the opener 3-0 (11-8, 11-6, 11-2) against Bangladesh team, which doesn't have any table tennis players inside the top 600 in the ITTF singles rankings.
India men's team, who beat Nigeria to win gold at the 2018 CWG in Gold Coast, kept their foot down with five-time CWG veteran Sharath Kamal defeating Rifat Sabbir 3-0 (11-4, 11-7, 11-2) in the second match.Sathiyan, ranked 35th, then brushed aside the challenge from world No. 602 Mohutasin Ahmed Ridoy to win 3-0 (11-2, 11-3, 11-5) and set up India's clash against Nigeria in the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, India will face a strong challenge from the Nigerian men's table tennis team which has world No. 15 Quadri Aruna in its ranks.
"It was a rather easy outing today. We are a pretty strong team against Bangladesh. We know them, we are neighbours and we are good friends off the table," said veteran Sharath Kamal after the win.
"(We are) now sailing into the semifinals against Nigeria who are the bottom seeds. Last time (Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games) we won gold and I hope this time we can defend it. It is one match at a time. I hope we can continue our good run and winning form," he added.
Talking about the learning from the match, he said, "We tried a few combinations in doubles and singles (about) how we would play in the semifinals; which pair is better. We will have some team discussions this evening and then the best team will come back tomorrow."
Earlier, the Indian men's team dominated the group stage with 3-0 wins over Barbados, Singapore and Northern Ireland. On the other hand, the Indian women's team, led by their top table tennis player Manika Batra, suffered a major upset against Malaysia after going down 3-2 in the quarterfinals.
The men's singles and doubles table tennis events at Birmingham 2022 are scheduled from August 3 to 8.