Indian men’s and women’s team scripted history by clinching the gold medals at the World Table Tennis Team Championship with superb victories over Luxembourg and Brazil respectively here today.
Indian eves beat Luxembourg 3-1 in the event final of the Second Division, while their male counterparts overcame a stiff Brazil 3-2 here. India had sealed its entry in the Champions Division last night after reaching the finals.
Incidentally, this was the first time ever that the women’s team kept a clean slate - eight wins - in the first and the second stages. The men, on the other hand, bounced back after losing their only group match against Nigeria to achieve the exceptional honours.
In the women’s team final, Mouma Das gave a winning start to her team when she defeated Danielle Konsbruck 3-0 in a quick burst. Manika Batra then put behind yesterday’s loss and began with a bang, leading 2-0 against Tessy Gonderinger, who managed to grab the third game. However, Manika clinched the fourth game to win 3-1 and provide India with a 2-0 lead.
Despite the cushion, K Shamini was unable to take advantage and lost her singles to Sarah De Nutte in straight games but Manika beat Danielle 3-0 in the reverse singles to wrap a memorable win for India.
“It was a great experience for all of us. We will remember this feat at KL for a long time to come,” said Manika Batra after completing the win. “I am happy I started well and our combined efforts and consistency throughout have paid us dividends,” added Mouma.
In men’s team final, Harmeet Desai hogged the limelight as India eked out a narrow win.
With two hard-fought wins yesterday, the team management decided to rest Achanta Sharath Kamal in the final against Brazil today. But it seemed to be a wrong decision with India trailing 1-2 despite Harmeet pulling one back after Soumyajit Ghosh lost the opening rubber.
Worse was to come when Anthony Amalraj, who led 2-1 in the third rubber, went down to Thiago Monterio, putting India in a precarious position. However, Ghosh made amends with a fantastic 3-0 win over Cazuo Matsumoto to keep the team hopes alive.
Harmeet then played the decider and he lost the first game but the Indian held his nerves to restore parity. The real turnaround in the rubber came when, trailing 6-9, Harmeet kept his cool and closed it down to 9-10.
Then when he deuced at 10-10 for the first time, it was a tense moment. After saving two game points and two deuces Harmeet won 15-13, much to the relief of the Indian camp.
Sharath said: “It is like a dream come true for me and the team because by 2018 if I am still in the team, we will be playing in the Championship Division for the first time,” said the ace Indian.