Indian men were guaranteed three singles medals, leaving the fourth one to Singapore in the Avadh 20th Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at the Pandit Dindayal Upadhyay Indoor Stadium. The Indians also looked like overhauling their best ever tally of nine medals. The hosts have already assured themselves of medals in doubles in both the sections, apart from the team gold and silver.

Soumyajit Ghosh rolled over his Scottish rival Gavin Rumgay 11-4, 11-8, 11-6, 12-10, but G Sathiyan fell to world number 176 Chen Feng of Singapore 11-13, 11-9, 7-11, 10-12, 11-4, 5-11. Saithiyan has to blame himself for squandering the fourth game after a sizeable 10-7 lead which allowed Chen to come back strongly and reach the semi-finals. If only he had won, it would have given him a comfortable 3-1 lead and confidence to go over the hurdle.

Yet the Indian presence in the semi-final became evident as in the all-India quarterfinals, Anthony Amalraj taught a lesson or two to Abhishek Yadav, winning the match 11-4, 11-4, 11-4, 11-2 in flat 22 minutes. Abhishek, ranked way below his rival (212), could not counter the speedy Amalraj despite possessing good strokes and went down without a murmur.

In contrast, left-handed Sanil Shetty (267) overcame local boy and higher-ranked (155) Harmeet Desai 9-11, 4-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5. In the pre-quarterfinals, Harmeet defeated England’s Helshan Weerasinghe 11-13, 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 6-11, 11-6, 16-14. The Indian saved two match-points and, on his second, won the crucial decider when Helshan sent the ball out after a couple of rallies.

Mouma, Manika assured of medal

With two Singaporeans in the women’s quarterfinals, it was always going to be difficult for the hosts’ paddlers and that’s precisely what happened with Ankita Das and K Shamini. Nevertheless, both Mouma Das and Manika Batra assured themselves of at least a bronze medal each. The biggest problem, however, will be their rivals in the semifinals, the top two seeds of the championships.

Number two Indian Mouma had a tough time against Pooja who took her compatriot the full distance. It looked as if Mouma will sail through, but Pooja had the audacity to challenge the national champion by levelling the score.

In the decider, Pooja fought well to level 8-all but the attacking Mouma turned the heat on her rival to seal the fate with a 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10, 8-11, 10-12, 11-8 verdict. On the other hand, it was an easy going for Manika against England’s Ho Tin-Tin, whom the Indian had beaten in the team event.

Knowing each other well after the team matches, both treaded a cautious approach but when it mattered the most, Manika upped the ante to go 2-0 up. But the pen-holder grip player pulled one down to raise the banner of a fight. However, it never happened as Manika steadied herself and shut her out in the next two for an easy 11-6, 11-6, 2-11, 11-7, 11-2 triumph.

It was always going to be difficult for Shamini against the world number 46 Zhou Yihan. Shamini did well to bring down the pace of game. However, Zhou was clever enough to change her game after being down 1-2 to bring Shamini more miseries. The Indian could not cope with it.

Ankita started well against Lin Ye, the world number 57, taking the first two games to give more hope of the Indian’s advancement. The Singaporean, who was slow to warm up, did not waste time and energy to put it across Ankita 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6, 11-8.

The other five Indians to make it to the last eight stages were Anthony Amalraj wbo beat Engalnd’s David McBeath 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4, Sanil Shetty who accounted for Singapore’s Chew Zhe Yu Clarence 11-4, 11-7, 13-11, 11-7, G Sathiyan who downed Marios Yiangou of Cyprus 11-4, 11-6, 11-9, 11-5, Soumyajit Ghosh, who rolled over Singapore’s Pang Xue Jie 11-3, 17-15, 11-9, 11-2 and Abhishek Yadav who got a walkover from top-seed Singaporean Li Hu.

Of the two other Indians in fray, Sudhanshu Grover went down to Scotland’s Gavin Rumgay 11-9, 5-11, 8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 9-11 and Devesh Karia lost 15-13, 9-11, 5-11,8-11, 6-11 to higher-ranked Singapore’s Chen Feng.

In mixed doubles semi-finals, Indian pair of G Sathiyan and Ankita Das beat compatriots Sanil Shetty and Manika Batra 11-2, 13-11, 7-11, 11-8 to earn a gold medal meeting with the other pair, comprising Soumyajit Ghosh and Mouma Das. Both Ghosh and Mouma were scheduled to meet the top Singaporean pair of Li Hu and Zhou Yiyan but Li withdrew owing to ill-health, giving a walkover. The Sani-Manika duo will be awarded the bronze.

In the morning, Singapore’s top-seed and world number 59, Li Hu pulled out of contest citing fever and body ache.