The Indian women’s table tennis team blanked New Zealand, a side full of Chinese-origin players, to march into the semifinals of the Commonwealth Games at the Scotstoun Sports Campus in Glasgow on Saturday.
Shamini Kumaresan starred in India’s 3-0 win over New Zealand. They face Singapore, whom they lost to at Delhi Games to settle for silver, in the semifinals later on Saturday.
The ploy to play Shamini in the first singles against 52-year-old Chun Li worked. The Indian played a solid match to beat 2002 singles Commonwealth Games champion and five-time Olympian 5-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5.
Delhi girl Manika Batra, who plays with a pimpled rubber, outsmarted Chunl Li’s sister Karen 11-13, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5 to give India a 2-0 cushion.
In the doubles rubber, being played in the team competition for the first time at Games, Shamini and Madhurika Patkar outplayed Karen and Yang Sun 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 for India’s well deserved victory.
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“The match was much tougher than what the scoreline suggests. The New Zealand team is full of Chinese and we had a hard time beating them in Delhi four years ago,” coach Bhawani Mukherjee told PTI referring to India’s 3-2 win over New Zealand in the Delhi edition.
“We made the decision to field Shamini against Chun Li and it worked out well. The other girls also did their job,” said Mukherjee.
It will be an achievement for India to take a match off the mighty Singaporeans while Malaysia take on Australia in the other semifinal.
The losing semifinalists battle for the bronze on Sunday.
“It is unfortunate that we are up against Singapore but it is the way it is. I think Shamini is the only one who looks capable of creating an upset,” added Mukherjee.
The Indian men led by Sharath Kamal meet Scotland in the quarterfinals later on Saturday.
Four Indian judokas in fray for a bronze medals
Four Indian judokas were in contention for a bronze medal in the higher weight categories on the third and concluding day of the martial art event in Glasgow on Saturday.
In the men’s event, Sahil Pathania (upto 100 kg) and Parveen Kumar (+100 kg) will be vying for bronze medal via repechage bouts while Jina Devi Chongtham (upto 78 kg) and Rajwinder Kaur (+78 kg) have also reached the medal round.
In his quarterfinal bout, Pathania lost to Jason Koster having conceded three shido penalties and ‘Ippon’.
However quarter-final qualification ensured repechage bouts for Pathania, who knocked out Dominic Dugasse of Seychelles with an ‘Ippon’ within a minute. He will now fight against Tim Slyfield of New Zealand in the bronze medal bout.
In the (+100 kg) event, Parveen was ‘Ippon’ ed in the quarterfinal by Kiwi Sam Rosser but won his repechage bout against Gavin McNeill of New Zealand to set up a bronze medal fight with Jake Andrewartha of Australia.
In the women’s (upto 78 kg) event, Manipuri Jina Devi is pitted against Hortense Mballa Atangana in the bronze medal clash.
In the (+78 kg) event, Rajwinder Kaur won her repechage bout against Canadian Sophie Vaillancourt by virtue of a single Wazari to set up ‘bronze date’ with Kenyan Esther Akinyi Ratugi.