India added another golden chapter to the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships when their mixed doubles pair of G Sathiyan and Archana Kamath defeated Singapore’s Peng Yu En KoenGoi Rui Xuan 3-0 in the final at Cuttack on Sunday.
The gold count, on the penultimate day of the championships, stood at three. This had, in a way, avenged the earlier loss of A Sharath Kamal and Sreeja Akula in the semi-final by the same Singaporean pair as well, as the defeat of Sharath in men’s singles quarter-finals by Peng.
The Indian pair was on top in the final as they piled on the agony of their rivals, particularly on a tired Peng who could not cope with the pressure applied by the top-seeded duo.
But the second-seeded Sharath Kamal squandered three match points and then the quarter-final match, shattering his men singles medal hope. Though Sharath failed to go past the semi-finals in mixed doubles, he would definitely rue the singles loss to the younger legs of Peng in the quarters.
The other Indians that made the grade included top-seeded G Sathiyan, who beat Nigerian Bode Abiodun 4-0 and Harmeet Desai who accounted for fellow Indian Sushmit Sriram 4-1. Sanil Shetty joined Sharath when he went down to England’s Thomas Jarvis 1-4.
Earlier, the top-seeded Ho Tin-Tin of England beat the unseeded Archana Kamath, the reigning national champion, 4-1 to enter the women’s singles semi-finals.
But the second-seeded Madhurika Patkar and fourth seed Ayhika Mukherjee easily followed the England woman in the last-four stages while in a marathon battle. Sreeja Akula defeated Sutirtha Mukherjee 4-2 even as Patkar downed Krittiwika Sinha Roy 4-1 and Mukherjee beat Mousumi Paul in straight games.
Kamath, who played well until this point, was unable to find her feet against the attacking Ho who cashed in on several unforced errors committed by the Indian. After losing the first game, the Bengaluru girl came back to level 1-1 but lost her rhythm from there to lose tamely.
Kamath had a the measure of Roy, the national runner-up and despite losing a game she punished her rival when the opportunities presented themselves.
Indeed, Roy had a slight advantage in the fourth game but lost it 10-12 and then the steam. However, for Mukherjee it was rather easy as Paul could not cope with her rival’s quick returns and excellent placements.
Two extended games must have sapped the energy of both Sreeja and Sutirtha but the former held her nerves despite squandering five match-points to romp home winners.
The scratch pair of Sharath Kamal and Sreeja Akula, in the absence of Manika Batra, had little problem up to the semi-finals. However, the mismatch became more palpable when the Indian duo took on Singapore’s Yu En Koen Pang and Rui Xuan Goi, who play together more regularly.
In men’s doubles, two Indian pairs – Sharath and Sathiyan and Anthony Amalraj and Manav Thakkar -– made it to the semi-finals while the two other pairs that will challenge the Indian domination will be Pang Yu En and Chua Shao Han from Singapore and the English duo of Samuel Walker and Thomas Jarvis, respectively, on Monday.
In women’s doubles, Pooja Sahasrabudhe and Krittiwika Singha Roy, Sreeja Akula and Mousumi Paul and Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee entered the semi-finals while the fourth pair, top-seeded Madhurika Patkar and Archana Kamath went down to Singapore’s Goi Rui Xuan and Won Xin Ru 2-3 (5-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11).