Achanta Sharath Kamal proved to be no match for Singapore’s Jian Zhan as the Indian was blanked 4-0 in a one-sided men’s singles table tennis semifinal match in the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Saturday.
The top Indian paddler lost 11-6 11-6 11-6 11-8 to his 32-year-old opponent from Singapore at the Scotstown Campus.
That the 32-year-old from Chennai, who had won a gold in the 2006 Melbourne Games, struggled to match up to Zhan’s play could be gauged from the fact that the match was over in just 27 minutes. The scoreline also reflects the one-sided nature of the match.
Kamal had earlier teamed up with Anthony Amalraj to win a silver medal for India after losing to Singapore’s Gao Ning and Hu Li in the final of the men’s doubles table tennis event.
Sharath and Amalraj squandered a game lead to lose 1-3 (11-8 7-11 9-11 5-11) against the Singaporan duo to setlle for the silver medal.
After losing his men’s singles semifinal match, Kamal said, “I started flat, he got better. I didn’t put one ball over the net, like it (the net) was invisible. I hit every damn ball into the net. Maybe my body was just too tired. The last three days schedule has been hard.”
On getting a medal, the Indian paddler said, “It depends on this evening. If I can win, it’s still a medal. God doesn’t give everything to everybody.”
Asked about the bronze medal match against Liam Pitchford, he said, “He beat me in the team event, so I really need to be up and going from the start.”
On his part, Zhan said, “I was well prepared for this match, and my coach gave me a lot of help.”
And asked about his opponent Kala, he said, “He’s a veteran player, and an excellent one, so I was familiar with his game.
Actually my playing style is a little unusual, I don’t think he quite adjusted to it, and the way I played the ball. Today I seized my chance.”
Coach Peter Engel said: “Kamal didn’t connect his strokes. It is a semi-final, we’re all human. Today he (Zhan) was quite sharp. He has been weak down the line, but he was good.”
On Kamal’s role in the team, Engel said, “He is a very good team player. He takes care of the young ones. I think he can play at the next ones (2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games). His aim was to win a medal here and that’s what we’re looking for.”