Indian men break 11-year gold drought

Women settle for their fourth silver in the championship’s history

With top-seeded Singapore out of the way, India put up a confident display to outplay England 3-1 in the men’s final of the Avadh 20th Commonwealth table tennis championships here on Friday.

The Indian men’s team last won the title in 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, with Sharath Kamal, Soumyadeep Roy and Subhajit Saha forming the core of the team.

With the last edition in New Delhi in 2013 being a disappointment in the sense that India couldn’t win gold despite bagging a record nine medals, the gold on Friday would have come as a major relief.

“Yes, I feel really happy to win the championship title in India. It was a team effort by a young unit which will form the core in the future. This is my dream team,” said Soumyajit Ghosh, India’s top-ranked paddler. Ghosh credited G. Sathiyan with easing the pressure by winning the third match, even as he dedicated the trophy to Sharath Kamal, who had to miss the event due to a freak car accident.

India might not have started the final the way it wanted, but it did not have Singapore’s might to worry about. For, England had earlier turned the tables on the favourite to win the final league match 3-2 and top Group E.

David McBeath continued the momentum in the title clash, giving his side a 1-0 lead with a come-from-behind win. Harmeet Desai began well, but his play fizzled out after the first two games.

Ghosh then put it across Helshan Weerasinghe rather comfortably before Sathiyan tamed the 16-year-old Tom Jarvis in a tricky third tie.

Finally Ghosh snuffed out McBeath’s challenge in a closely fought match.

In the women’s section, a superior Singapore team expectedly defeated India 3-1 to retain the crown. Ankita Das briefly sparkled against Lin Ye in the first tie. Manika Batra, India’s best bet, lost both her matches.

A seasoned Mouma Das won the second tie against the lower-ranked Koh Kai Xin for the solitary triumph.

This is only the fourth occasion in the history of the championship that the women’s team has won silver. And, that too, after 24 years. The team had last won silver in 1991 at Nairobi, Kenya.

The results:

Men: Final: India bt England 3-1 (Harmeet Desai lost to David McBeath 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 9-11; Soumyajit Ghosh bt Helshan Weerasinghe 11-7, 11-4, 11-7; G. Sathiyan bt Tom Jarvis 11-3, 11-6, 11-5; Ghosh bt Mcbeath 11-6, 11-13, 11-9, 11-8).

Third-place match: Singapore bt Northern Ireland 3-0 (bronze medal shared). (Second Stage): Group E: England bt Singapore 3-2; F: India bt Scotland 3-0.

Women: Final: Singapore bt India 3-1 (Lin Ye bt Ankita Das 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8; Zhou Yihan bt Manika Batra 11-9, 11-8, 8-11,11-9; Koh Kai Xin lost to Mouma Das 8-11, 7-11, 5-11; Lin Ye bt Manika Batra 11-8, 11-3, 11-6). Semifinals: India bt England 3-1 (Manika bt Le Fivre Karina 11-4, 11-5, 11-6; Ankita bt Ho Tin-Tin 12-10, 3-11, 12-10, 11-9; K. Shamini lost to Maria Tsaptsinos 8-11, 7-11, 7-11; Manika bt Ho Tin-Tin 11-5, 11-5, 11-7); Singapore bt Wales 3-0 (Li Ye bt Chloe Thomas 11-9, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5; Zhou Yihan bt Carey Charlotte 11-5, 11-4, 11-4; Koh Kai Xin bt Megan Phillips 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 13-11,11-9).