The first half of Monday at the Yamuna Sports Complex was rather smooth for India's women table tennis team. They began their campaign at the Commonwealth Games with a convincing 3-0 win against Sri Lanka in the first round. However, the latter part of the day had something else in store for them.
New Zealand, one of the strongest medal contenders, drawn in India's group with Ghana as the fourth team overcame the hosts 3-2. The Kiwis had earlier defeated Ghana 3-0.
At the end of the proceedings, the Kiwis topped the group with India finishing second.
Bhawani Mukherjee, the chief national coach while reacting on the loss, said, "After all, New Zealand have players of Chinese origin playing for them and they played really well. Though we have qualified, I'm sure the team will learn from its mistakes and go on to win the remaining matches."
Asked if resting Paulomi Ghatak, one of the most experienced players in the armoury, was part of the strategy, Mukherjee said, "The other players, Madhurika (Suhas Patkar) and Shamini Kumaresan have been playing well, so we decided to give them a chance. Mouma (Das) on the other hand is a veteran and knows how to handle defensive players like Yang Sun (New Zealand) and she beat her hands down. It was a well-thought out decision and the team took it collectively."
In the first game, Kumaresan beat Annie Yang 3-1 but lost to Karen Li 2-3. On the other hand, Patkar went down to Li 0-3 and Yang got better of her 3-1.
The hosts will play Ghana while toppers New Zealand will take on Sri Lanka in the next round.
Top two teams from each of the four groups will qualify for quarters.