India: Top-rated paddler Sharath Kamal Friday had to be content with a bronze in the men’s singles event as India finished the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships Friday with a record nine medals — but no gold.
Besides losing the singles semi-final to Singapore’s Li Hu, Sharath alongside Subhajit Saha let the doubles title slip away after their defeat to English pair of Christopher Doran and Samuel Walker at the Thyagraj Stadium here.
The Indian pair was defending champions from the 2009 Glasgow edition and had also won the gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
As the day started, India were assured of two medals each in women’s singles and doubles. However, Indian players could not progress beyond the semifinals and settled for bronze medals.
The host nation ended the Championships with two silver medals and seven bronze, a couple more than what it got at Glasgow.
Sharath, a silver medallist in 2009, ended joint third after losing a match of high emotion against Li Hu, who beat him easily in the team championship final.
The World no.69 Indian played much better against his 56th-ranked opponent but it wasn’t enough. He lost 10-12, 7-11, 13-11, 10-12, 4-11.
As seen already in India-Singapore battles throughout the tournament, Sharath won most of the long rallies while Li was superior closer to the table. Sharath knew he had to depend on his forehand to have any chance of winning. He could not implement his strategy enough, largely due to Li’s speed and accuracy. Sharath’s serve was also a big let down.
“I had to take chances against him, he was not missing anything. And you are bound to make errors when you are trying to do something different. Overall, I played a lot better than what I managed against him in the team final. I feel good going into the World Championships,” said Sharath, who will be leaving with the Indian squad Saturday for the Worlds beginning in Paris Monday.
On the surprise 11-4, 8-11, 11-6, 10-12, 7-11 loss in the doubles final, Sharath said: “We could not click in the decider. The pressure also got to us.
In the women’s category, veteran Mouma Das went down against Yu Mengyu of Singapore in the last four. She did well to pull off two games against the top seed before losing 8-11, 17-15, 11-7, 8-11, 5-11, 4-11.
Eighteen-year-old Manika Batra let go of a big opportunity to make a Commonwealth final. She got enough chances to close out the match against Canadian Zhang Mo but faltered at key moments and went down 9-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10, 6-11. The Indian gave away the first game after leading 6-0.
In the doubles, top seeds Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu outplayed Mouma and Shamini Kumaresan 11-9, 11-9, 11-2 while Neha Aggarwal and Madhurika Patkar lost to the seasoned English duo of Joanna Parker and Kelly Sibley 8-11, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11.
Mouma pocketed four medals in the biennial Championships including the mixed doubles silver with Soumyajit Ghosh.