CWG TT: Sharath-Saha Get Gold, Another Bronze Certain

Diganta Biswas/New Delhi
CWG TT: Sharath-Saha Get Gold, Another Bronze Certain
Olympian Achanta Sharath Kamal and former national champion Subhajit Saha today ensured that table tennis contribute a gold to India's medal tally in Commonwealth Games, by overcoming Singaporeans Gao Ning and Yang Zi 3-2 in the men's doubles final here.

World number 40, Sharath, who lost to Yang in the singles semifinal earlier today, got the sweet revenge when he joined hands with the Bengal paddler to clinch the doubles title in front of a packed gallery at Yamuna Sports Complex.

However, the Indian combo did not get off to a good start in the summit clash as they fought hard but lost the opening game 9-11.

But the duo showed great character to wrest the lead from their opponents, bagging two successive games 12-10 and 11-4.

The Singaporeans were proved hard nuts to crack as they drew parity in the fourth game, outplaying Sharath-Saha 11-5.

In the deciding game of the best-of-five contest, the Indians held nerves amid loud cheers from the spectators and survived several anxious moments before claiming the game 11-8 to lay their hands on the yellow metal.

"This is the first time we have won the gold in men's doubles, so its certainly historic. Personally, this has given me more satisfaction than my singles performance in the Delhi Games," Sharath said after their victory.

"We decided to adopt aggressive strategy and Sharath came back really strong after his semifinal defeat in singles. We could not have expected anything better than this," Saha added.

Sharath-Saha had beat Andrew Baggaley and L Pitchford of England 3-2 in their semifinal match, earlier today.

The England pair clinched the bronze in that category, beating Australians R Frank and W Henzell 3-2 in third-place play-off.

India are now assured of at least one more medal from table tennis in the mega-event as it will be an all-Indian encounter between Sharath and Soumyadeep Roy for the men's singles bronze tomorrow.

Indian women have already clinched a silver, while their men counterparts have fetched a bronze in the team events.

However, the day did not start well for the lanky Chennai paddler, who had put up valiant fight against Yang but squandered an early 1-0 lead before going down closely.

It was a no-holds-barred battle between Sharath and Yang in the semifinal, which the Indian lost 3-4.

The lanky Indian started on a positive note, bagging the opening game 11-9, but lost the second one 8-11.

Then onwards the spectators experienced a see-saw battle with Sharath winning and losing the next games 11-7, 7-11, 11-7 and 5-11, respectively.

In the decider, both the paddlers came to level at 9-9 and then the Singaporean earned two points to silent the cheering crowd at the stadium.

India's Roy also could not enter final as he went down 0-4 to another Singaporean, world number 17 Gao in the other semifinal.

Roy started on a disappointing note and lost the first two

games with an identical 2-11 scoreline.

After that, the Bengal paddler tried hard to stage a comeback and gave some anxious moments to the experienced Singaporean.

However, Gao fetched from his experience to win the next two games 11-9, 11-7 to wrap up the issue.

In women's doubles also, India's Poulomi Ghatak and Mouma Das found their nemesis in Singaporeans Sun Beibei and Li Jiawei, who thrashed them 3-0 in the semifinal.

But still they can contribute a bronze to the hosts' medal tally, beating Australian pair of Tan Z Vivian and Campbell-Innes Peri in the third place play-off tomorrow.

Vivian-Peri lost to Singapore's Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu 0-3 in the other semifinal.

Indian challenge in women's singles and mixed doubles sections have already ended.
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