And then there was one. On the final day of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Indian athletes are in with a chance to add five gold medals to the overall tally.
India are guaranteed to reach 60 medals and could make it 61 despite there being no shooting at the Games this year. In 2018, the country won 66 medals with 16 coming from shooting.
On a brief but massive day, shuttlers PV Sindhu, Lakshya Sen, and men’s doubles team Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty will be in action in their respective gold medal matches. Veteran paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal will also contend for gold in the men’s singles table tennis final.
Later in the evening, all eyes will be on Manpreet Singh and Co as the Indian men’s hockey team seeks a historic gold medal (best in the past has been silver) against the as yet invincible Kookaburras from Australia who will compete for a seventh straight Commonwealth Games gold medal.
India vs Australia: 5.30 pm IST
Hockey has been played at the Commonwealth Games since 1998 and in that first year it was Australia who dominated, winning gold in both the men’s and women’s competitions. Malaysia men and England women took silver, while England men and New Zealand women won the bronze medals.
Incredibly, the Australia men have dominated ever since – the Kookaburras have won the title an unbeaten six times, with New Zealand, Malaysia, India and Pakistan sharing the silver medals between them.
Quietly though, Manpreet’s men must be confident. While their own semifinal performance was not the most ideal, they’d have seen that England nearly ended Australia’s reign after taking a 2-0 lead only for the World No 1 team to fight back to win 3-2 dramatically.
Indian men’s hockey team has never won the CWG gold and against the mighty Aussies, they will start as underdogs but this could make for a cracking contest either way.
Given everything she has achieved in her glittering career, a Commonwealth Games gold medal won’t be the crowning glory but it is a medal she is evidently keen to add as she fought through the semifinal despite not looking a 100% fit. With taping on her left lower leg region, Sindhu struggled with her movement but had enough firepower to overcome the challenge of talented Singapore shuttler Yeo Jia Min. In the final, she will face a familiar foe in Canada’s Michelle Li. Sindhu has a 8-2 Head-to-Head and if she has recovered well enough, will be favourite. But Li will make it physically hard for Sindhu with her solid gameplay.
On his CWG debut, Lakshya will start as favourite to win gold but that has meant nothing for Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong in this tournament so far. After stunning Srikanth in the mixed team final, he defeated the Indian legend once again in the semis. Before that, he had defeated the world champion Loh Kean Yew in the quarterfinals. Lakshya still has a 2-0 H2H, including the win at India Open earlier this year but that too was after a massive battle in the semifinal.
For Satwik-Chirag, there is (perhaps) a surprise final awaiting. Top seeds Chia/Soh have a 100% win record against the Indian pair and have been a nemesis. But the Malaysians were knocked out in the semifinals by Ben Lane/Sean Vendy in rather incredible fashion. This will be a rematch of the Tokyo Olympics group stage fixture that was played in a surreal environment in an empty arena, with both teams out of the reckoning for quarterfinals. On Monday, it will be in front of a raucous crowd with support for both pairs likely.
For the first time since Melbourne 2006, Sharath Kamal is back in the men’s singles final and he will take on world No 20 Liam Pitchford. The H2H is a tantalising 2-2 between the two men, who met for the first time as early as 2010 CWG as per the ITTF website. It has already been a stunning Games for Sharath, could be find the icing on that cake?
Before the final, Sathiyan will have a chance to add a bronze to his tally. It will be another India-England battle as he takes on Paul Drinkhall. As per ITTF, their only singles meeting came on the junior tour in 2007, which Drinkhall won. Fair to say that won’t have an influence on the outcome in 2022.
Here’s a list of events chronologically as provided by Sports Authority of India media team:
With SAI inputs. Corrections will be added if needed.
Schedule screenshots via CWG 2022 Games results website.