Surat: Indian men claimed the team championship beating England 3-1 while their women’s squad had to satisfy themselves with the silver medal after losing to Singapore 1-3 in the final of the 20th AVADH Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at the Pandit Dindayal Upadhyay Indoor Stadium here on Friday.
The Indian men paddlers have done it only for the second time in 20 editions of the championships, having won gold in 2004 in Malaysia under the leadership of Achanta Sharath Kamal, who went on to win his individual gold, too. For the women, this was the fourth occasion to claim silver. They had won the white metal in 1975, 1983 and 1991.
In the golden fight, England’s David McBeath gave a scare to both Harmeet Desai and India when the Indian, after leading 2-0, went down 2-3 in what was a wonderful comeback by the Englishman. McBeath had the presence of mind to slow down the game and catch Harmeet on the wrong foot several times in the last three games to put his team one-up.
But Soumyajit Ghosh beat Helshen Weerasinghe rather easily to level the score as the Sri Lankan origin player did not have any answer to the Indian’s rapid play. Though Weerasinghe tried to borrow his teammate’s line, it did not work against Soumyajit.
G. Sathiyan, taking on England’s weakest link Tom Jarvis, cruised in straight games to put India 2-1 up. The advantage cushion worked in favour of Soumyajit in his reverse singles against McBeath despite the Englishman displaying all his tricks against the Indian. Soumyajit won 11-6, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8.
Giving credit to McBeath, Ghosh said his team mates were confident of winning the gold. “Of course there was some pressure, but I am used to it. In the end, I could help team win and I am happy,” said the world’s top-ranked Indian in the current outfit.
However, the Indian eves failed to emulate their male counterparts as pre-tournament favourites Singapore showed their superiority.
However, one did expect our women paddlers to put up a semblance of fight to make the contest interesting. Instead, it turned out to be boring and one-sided. If Ankita Das, after taking the first game, faltered to deceive against world No. 57 Lin Ye, Manika couldn’t do much against No.46 Zhou Yihan. Zhou was simply outstanding this evening.
Veteran Mouma Das, with her experience, pulled one back beating Koh Kai Xin Pearlyn but Lin Ye downed Manika in her reverse singles to end India’s ordeal quickly.
You cannot blame the Indians in the face what the Singaporeans did on the table. Not only did they reveal quality but also a variations in strokes and counter-strokes besides working on the angles. The Indians, except Mouma, found them locked very much in a tight corner, unable to defy the logic, guile and pace their opponents had worked out.
Nevertheless, the Indian team has done a wonderful job to finish with silver — only the fourth such occasion — and that too after 24 years. The Indian women had won their last team silver in 1991 at Nairobi.
Earlier in the day, Indian women beat England 3-1 and Singapore defeated Wales by the same margin in the semi-finals.