New Delhi: Indian table tennis players A Sharath Kamal and Mouma Das reached the final rounds in Stage 2 of the Asia Olympic Qualification tournament in Hong Kong on Friday to inch closer to making the cut for the Rio Games.
The Stage 2 of the Asia Qualifiers offers a total of 12 qualifiers -- five from region tournaments and seven from the main event.
With five regions throwing up five qualifiers in each section, which included Indians Soumyajit Ghosh and Manika Batra, the remaining players were divided into four groups in each category to compete among themselves the winners of each group making the Olympics cut.
Drawn in group B and given a first-round bye, Sharath Kamal took on Ali Alkhadrawi of Saudi Arabia in the semifinals.
The experienced Indian made a short work of his Saudi opponent to beat him 4-0 (11-4, 11-7, 13-11, 11-4) to move into the last round where he will take on Noshad Alamiyan from Iran tomorrow. This match in group B will decide the seventh qualifier.
The Iranian, who scored a hard-fought first round win (4-3) over Libya's Dauud Cheaib, defeated Indonesia's Ficky Santoso 4-2 (11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3) in the second round.
Though Sharath and Noshad have not met each other in recent times they have played against one another five times before between 2010 and 2014 with the Indian having a 4-1 win-loss record over the Iranian.
Mouma, drawn in group A, had an easy passage into the final round where she will meet North Korean Ri Myong Sun on Saturday.
The Indian had received byes in the first two rounds while Ri, who had a first-round bye, defeated Sewer Abuyaman of Jordan in straight games in round two.
In a head-to-head match-up, the North Korean has an upper hand over the Indian, having beaten Mouma once in the Asian Championships in 2011.