by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Koki Niwa and Jin Ueda combined to beat Paul Drinkhall and Sam Walker in the doubles contest (11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7), before Liam Pitchford gave the host nation great hope.
Inspired he beat Tomokazu Harimoto in three straight games (13-11, 11-8, 11-5), the explosive backhand being in full flow.
Success for Liam Pitchford but that was to be the sum total of England’s success; despite giving all for the cause, Paul Drinkhall lost to Jin Ueda (11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6), Liam Pitchford was beaten by Koki Niwa (16-14, 11-8, 11-7).
“The win against Tomokazu Harimoto was very important to us and in the next game, Paul had a chance to win if he had won the third game. Playing against Koki Niwa is never easy. I was very confidence going into the match and I was leading 7-2 in the first and I lost. I think the first game win gave Niwa the needed confidence in the match. Also I did not return service very well. The final group match against Egypt is massive because whoever wins advances to the quarter-final. Omar Assar is a good player and they have a strong doubles and what we just need now to go and sleep and focus on the encounter against Egypt tomorrow.” Liam Pitchford
England now meets Egypt to decide second place in the group; the fixture is scheduled for 12.00 noon on Friday 23rd February.