Achanta Sharath Kamal and G. Sathiyan failed to breach Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall’s fortress for the second time in succession as the Indian paddlers settled for men’s doubles silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Sunday.
In a scintillating final, dominated by spectacular rallies, the English combination emerged supreme, winning 8-11, 11-8, 11-3, 7-11, 11-4. The result was virtually a repeat of the 2018 Commonwealth Games final, when Drinkhall and Pitchford won 11-8 in the deciding game.
Sharath and Sathiyan started the match aggressively. But the second and the third games saw a majority of long rallies going England's way. The Indian duo then changed tactics and played closer to the table, resulting in impressive results in the fourth game with the match level at two games apiece.
In the decider, however, the English paddlers used their angles better while Sathiyan faltered at crucial junctures, thus handing a decisive lead to the opponent.
Singapore’ Clarence Chew and Ethan Poh won the bronze medal, defeating Australia’s Nicholas Lum and Finn Luu in four games.
Sreeja goes down
Earlier in the day, Sreeja Akula narrowly missed a medal in the women’s singles, losing the bronze medal playoff to Australia’s Yangzi Liu. Having fallen just a couple of points short of stunning the top seed and eventual champion Feng Tianwei of Singapore on Saturday, Sreeja suffered the same fate in the playoff.
Despite trailing 3-2 and 6-1 in the sixth game, the 24-year-old from Hyderabad showed her mettle by stretching the game into the decider. However, Liu’s consistency helped her sail through to win Australia’s second table tennis medal ever in the Commonwealth Games. Liu won 3-11, 11-6, 11-2, 7-11, 15-13, 9-11, 11-7.
Interestingly, the quadruple in the men’s doubles final will also be in action in the men’s singles semifinals later on Sunday night. While Sharath will face Drinkhall, Sathiyan will be up against Pitchford for a spot in the final.
Sharath and Sreeja will also be in action in the mixed doubles gold medal match. They will face Malaysia’s Karen Lyen and Javen Choong.
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