Cuttack, July 22: Indian paddlers made most of the ‘home’ advantage and grabbed all the gold medals—seven to be precise—in the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships which concluded at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here today.
G. Sathiyan was expected to lead the individual medal tally but could not surmount the rampaging Harmeet Desai as he faltered when it mattered the most against the 26-year-old Desai, who brought India from the brink to help it win team gold, yet again proved his mettle in the singles final.
But the best thing happen at the championships was that no individual could replicate the gold-winning performance in other events.
The domination of our paddlers at the championships could be gauged from the fact that all finals today featured only the Indians, making it more of a national event than an international one. In the final analysis, India won seven gold—the best ever haul—five silver and three bronze medals to be the table toppers.
Indeed, no one deserved to lose the singles final, but Desai deserved more to win the title. After being in arrears (0-2), he brought out the best in a crunch situation to outwit favourites Sathiyan. A particular rally in the fourth game which brought a winning point to Desai must have been really demoralizing for Sathiyan. Equally important was the win by the Surat boy in the next which kept lingering until he sealed it 17-15. No doubt, Sathiyan made it 3-3 after trailing for the first time, but the Gujarat lad played a great game to wrap it up in the decider.
Earlier, Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal failed to counter the fury of Anthony Amalraj and Manav Thakkar who claimed the men doubles gold, downing the top pair 3-1, after the Indians had banished the Singpore and England pairs, respectively, in the semifinals.
In women singles, Ayhika Mukherjee seized the great opportunity to win her maiden gold in the championships when she blanked out Madurika Patkar 4-0. Madhurika, who was absolutely inert at least in the first three games despite her attaching posture. But Ayhika was clever enough to take pace off the ball, forcing her opponent make all mistakes. The former national champion showed glimpse of a fight back but Ayhika, after frittering away three match-points, won the fourth for a well-deserved victory.
In fact, Madhurika also had some harrowing moments in the semifinal against Sreeja Akula. The little girl from Telangana matched Madhurika’s stroke, but could not do against the experience of her rival, particularly in the extended fifth game as Madhurika won 4-1 to seal her place. In the adjacent table, Ayhika put it across Ho Tin-Tin of England after dropping her third game to win by an identical margin.
In women doubles, Pooja Sahasrabudhe and Krittwika Sinha Roy defeated the other Indian pair of Sreeja Akula and Mousumi Paul 3-1. The pair had, in the semifinals, beaten the Singapore duo of Goi Rui Xuan & Wong Xin Ru in straight games, while Sreeja and Mousumi defeated the third Indian pair of Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee, also by a 3-0 verdict.
Men Singles: Final: Harmeet Desai bt G. Sathiyan 9-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8, 17-15, 7-11, 11-9; Semifinals: G. Sathiyan bt Thomas Jarvis (Eng) 16-14, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9; Harmeet Desai bt Pang Yu En Koen (Sgp) 10-12, 11-3, 11-6, 11-6, 11-2.
Women Singles: Final: Ayhika Mukherjee bt Madhurika Patkar 11-6, 11-4, 11-9, 19-17; Semifinals: Ayhika Mukherjee bt Ho Tin-Tin (Eng) 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 11-4; Madhurika Patkar bt Sreeja Akula 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 14-12.
Men Doubles: Final: A. Amalraj & Manav Thakkar bt A. Sharath Kamal & G. Sathiyan 8-11, 11-6, 13-11, 12-10; Semifinals: A. Sharath Kamal & G. Sathiyan bt Pang Yu En Koen & Chua Shao Han Josh (Sgp) 12-10, 11-4, 14-12; A. Amalraj & Manav Thakkar bt Samuel Walker & Thomas Jarvis (Eng) 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5.
Women Doubles: Final: Pooja Sahasrabudhe & Krtittwika Sinha Roy bt Sreeja Akula & Mousumi Paul 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10; Semifinals: Pooja Sahasrabudhe & Krtittwika Sinha Roy bt Goi Rui Xuan & Wong Xin Ru (Sgp) 11-7, 12-10, 11-9; Sreeja Akula & Mousumi Paul bt Sutirtha Mukherjee & Ayhika Mukherjee 11-8, 11-8, 11-6.
India: 7 gold, 5 silver, 3 bronze
England: 2 silver, 3 bronze
Singapore: 6 bronze
Malaysia: 1 bronze
Nigeria: 1 bronze.