Olympian Achanta Sharath Kamal’s dreams of defending his singles title went up in smoke after a narrow 3-4 semi-final loss to Singapore’s Yang Zi,but the Indian joined hands with compatriot Subhajit Saha to enter the men’s doubles final,at the Commonwealth Games here on Wednesday.
World number 40,Sharath put up valiant fight against Yang in the last four clash but squandered an early 1-0 lead before going down closely in front of a capacity crowd at the Yamuna Sports Complex.
However,Sharath and former national champion Saha beat Andrew Baggaley and L Pitchford of England 3-2 to enter men’s doubles final,assuring the host country at least a silver in that category.
India thus now assured of at least four medals from the ping pong sport in the mega-event as it will be an all-Indian encounter on Thursday,between Sharath and Soumyadeep Roy,for the men’s singles bronze medal .
Indian women have already clinched a silver,while their men counterparts have fetched a bronze in the team events.
It was a no-holds-barred battle between Sharath and Yang in the semifinal. The lanky Indian started on a positive note,bagging the opening game 11-9,but lost the second one 8-11.
Then onwards the spectators experienced a see-saw battle with Sharath winning and losing the next games 11-7,7-11,11-7 and 5-11,respectively.
In the decider,both the paddlers came to level at 9-9 and then the Singaporean earned two points to silent the cheering crowd at the stadium.
“I tried my best but from sixth game my opponent suddenly started playing much better. Specially in the fourth game I was up 5-3 and everything was going well. I should have won the game,” Sharath said after the match.
“Last game was anyone’s affair. But I did my best and am happy about that,” he added.
India’s Roy also could not enter final as he went down 0-4 to another Singaporean,world number 17 Gao Ning in the other semi-final.
Roy started on a disppointing note and lost the first two games with an identical 2-11 scoreline. After that,the Bengal paddlers tried hard to stage a comeback and presented the experienced Singaporean with some anxious moments .
However,the seasoned Gao fetched from his experience to win the next two games 11-9,11-7 and wrapped up the issue. In the men’s doubles,Sharath-Saha fought hard from the very beginning of their match but lost the first game 11-13.
But without losing heart,the Indians drew parity soon by bagging the second game 11-7,before again losing the next one 7-11.
It was a tooth and nail battle in the fourth game,which the Indians won 12-10,and then clinched the final game 11-6 to book their final berth.
Sharath-Saha now play Singaporeans Gao and Yang,who eased past Australian duo of W Henzell and R Frank 3-0 in the other semi-final,in the gold medal match later on Wednesday.
In women’s doubles also,India’s Poulomi Ghatak and Mouma Das found their nemesis in Singaporeans Sun Beibei and Li Jiawei,who thrashed them 3-0 in the semi-final.
But still they can clinch a bronze if they beat Australian pair of Tan Z Vivian and Campbell-Innes Peri in the third place play-off on Thursday.
Vivian-Peri lost to Singapore’s Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu 0-3.
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