Indian men claimed the team championship beating England 3-1 while the women squad had to satisfy themselves with the silver medal after losing to Singapore 1-3 in the final of the 20th Avadh Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships. The Indian men paddlers have done it only second time in 20 editions of the championships, having won gold in 2004 in Malaysia under Sharath Kamal, who went on to win his individual gold, too.
England came into the competition without their star player, world no.64 Liam Pitchford and 66-th ranked veteran Paul Drinkhall. The Indians on the other hand did not have their top player Sharath, who was forced out of the event after suffering a freak accident in Germany.
For the women, this was the fourth occasion to claim silver. They had won the white metal in 1975, 1983 and 1991.
McBeath downs Harmeet
In the gold fight, England’s David McBeath gave a scare to both Harmeet Desai and India when the Indian, after leading 2-0, went down 2-3 in what was a wonderful comeback by the Englishman. David had the presence of mind to slow down the game and catch Harmeet on the wrong foot several times in the last three games to put his team one up.
But Soumyajit Ghosh beat Helshen Weerasinghe rather easily to level the score as the Sri Lankan origin player did not have any answer to Ghosh’s rapid play. Though Weerasinghe tried to borrow his team mate’s line, it did not work against the top Indian player.
G. Sathiyan, taking on England’s weakest link rolled over Tom Jarvis in straight games to put India 2-1 up. But the advantage cushion worked in favour of Ghosh in his reverse singles against McBeath despite the Englishman displaying all his tricks against the Indian. Ghosh lost the second extended game, but caught up slowly but steadily to the chagrin of Indian spectators.
McBeath had Ghosh in all sorts of trouble despite the latter having a sizeable lead in both the games. In the third, Ghosh was up 4-0 but the England paddler came very close to the discomfiture of the host player. Similarly in the fourth, Ghosh was on top hurrying with his game and led 5-1 before allowing McBeath to level and go 6-5 up and 8-all. But then, Ghosh seized on a net error by his opponent and from there the game, match and the title went the Indian way.
Singapore womens’ superiority was never in doubt, nor was there any false hope about the Indians upsetting their rivals in the final. However, one did expect our women paddlers to put up a semblance of fight to make the contest interesting.
Instead, it turned out to be boring and one-sided.
Men’s Team: Gold Medal match: India beat England 3—1 (Harmeet Desai lost to David McBeath 11—9, 11—9, 7—11, 9—11, 9—11, Soumyajit Ghosh bt Helshan Weerasinghe 11—7, 11—4, 11—7, G. Sathiyan bt Tom Jarvis 11—3, 11—6, 11—5, Soumyajit Ghosh bt David McBeath 11—6, 11—3, 11—9, 11—8).
Position 3: Singapore bt Northern Ireland 3—0; Position 5: Scotland bt South Africa 3—0; Position 7: Sri Lanka bt Trinidad & Tobago 3—0.
Groups E&F—Round 3: England bt Singapore 3—2 (David McBeath bt Chen Feng 11—4, 7—11, 11—8, 11—9, Helshen Weerasinghe lost to Li Hu 3—11, 13—11, 8—11, 8—11, Tom Jarvis bt Chew Zhe Yu Clarence 11—7, 5—11, 11—9, 11—5, David McBeath lost to Li Hu 2—11, 12—10, 8—11, 9—11, Helshen Weerasinghe bt Chen Feng 7—11, 11—9, 4—11, 11—9, 11—7), South Africa bt T&T 3—1 (Kurt Lingeveldt bt Curtis Humphreys 7—11, 11—9, 9—11, 11—7, 11—9, Terrence Mathole bt Aaron Wilson 11—9, 7—11, 9—11, 11—9, 11—5, Keegan Lingeveldt lost to Arun Roopnarine 11—8, 6—11, 2—11, 11—9, 4—11, Terrence Mathole bt Curtis Humphreys 11—9, 6—11, 11—5, 11—8); India bt Scotland 3—0 (Harmeet Desai bt Gavin Rumgay 11—8, 12—10, 11—9, Soumyajit Ghosh bt Christopher Wheeler 11—2, 111—6, 11—6, Anthony Amalraj bt Craig Howieson 9—11, 11—8, 11—7, 11—9), Northern Ireland bt Sri Lanka 3—0 (Ashley Robinson bt Rohan Srisena 11—3, 11—8, 11—6, Paul McCreery bt Nirmala Jayasingha 12—10, 11—4, 11—6, Zak Wilson bt Jayasanka De Silva 11—9, 8—11, 11—9, 11—9).
Women’s Team: Final: Singapore bt India 3—1 (Lin Ye bt Ankita Das 9—11, 11—8, 11—7, 11—8, Zhou Yihan bt Manika Batra 11—9, 11—8, 8—11,11—9, Koh Kai Xin lost to Mouma Das 8—11, 7—11, 5—11, Lin Ye bt Manika Batra 11—8, 11—3, 11—6).
Semifinals: India bt England 3—1 (Manika Batra bt Karina Le Fevre 11—5, 11—5, 11—6, Ankita Das bt Ho Tin—Tin 12—10, 3—11, 12—10, 11—9, K. Shamini list to Maria Tsaptsinos 8—11, 7—11, 7—11, Manika Batra bt Ho Tin—Tin 11—5, 11—5, 11—7); Singapore bt Wales 3—0 (Lin Ye 11—9, 11—7, 11—5, Zhou Yihan b Charlottee Carey 11—5, 11—4, 11—4, Koh Kai Xin bt Megan Phillips 11—9, 8—11, 7—11, 13—11, 11—9).
Position 3: England bt Wales 3—1; Position 5: Sri Lanka bt Cyprus 3—1.