India ends Commonwealth journey

New Delhi, May 10 : Indian paddlers came up with their best ever performance, but the chalk and cheese difference became palpable in the 19th edition of Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships when the hosts miserably failed to up the ante in six of the eight semifinals they were in on Friday.

Thus the great Indian show at the Thyagraj Stadium here ended, minus the glitter of gold, as the hosts had to remain satisfied with six bronze medals which they added to the collection of two silver medals (men's team and mixed doubles) and one bronze (women's team) they had won until Thursday for an overall tally of nine medals.

Canada's Zhang Mo, who won gold in women's singles beating Yu Mengyu 4-3, stopped Singapore on their tracks from making a clean sweep. Singapore, however, finished with six gold, two silvers and three bronze medals. England finished with three silver and two bronze medals.

The biggest Indian culprits were world's top-ranked Indian Achanta Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra and defending champions in men's doubles, Sharath Kamal and Subhajit Saha. Even Mouma Das, the best Indian on view with four medals at the championships, flattered to deceive.

It was an outing that Sharath would like to forget for he and Saha first lost to a relatively inexperienced English pair of Christopher Doran and Samuel Walker 11-4 8-11 11-6 10-12 7-11. The Indian duo had its chances on several occasions but messed them up at crucial times, giving away easy points to their opponents.

Sharath could have made amends in the singles semifinals, but failed to match the speed and guile of Hu Li. The 31-year-old Indian was making far too many mistakes, including service errors, which cost him the match. But the world No 55 must get his due as he rarely allowed the Indian any liberty and went for the kill. Li won 4-1.

In the first game, Sharath levelled the score 8-8 and then 10-10 with his serve on. But another service error allowed his opponent take 1-0 lead.

So frustrated was Sharath that he flung his racquet up in the air. Luckily for the Indian, the umpires missed failed to show him the yellow card.

Then the Singaporean went 2-0 up before Kamal staved off some threat in the third to win it 13-11 with good back hand returns and longer rallies.

There was a time in the fourth when the two were almost going neck and neck, but for the third time Sharath made the cardinal blunder at his serve and Li clinched the game 12-10. Li was merciless in the final game as he wrapped it up with 11-4 score.

Sharath admitting his mistakes said, "I failed to make a match of it and the first game loss really hurt me. Though I executed my plans (attacking Li on his forehands) well, I was very bad with too many service errors."

In the women's singles, Mouma Das fell to top-seed Mengyu Yu 2-4.

Despite leading 2-1, the 29-year-old Indian failed to measure up to a classy world No. 27. Mengyu, with excellent footwork and sharp returns troubled the Indian far too much.

The Singaporean did give some opportunities, but the Indian failed to cash in on their loose offerings.

In the other women's semifinal, Manika Batra was done in by her own mistakes against Mo Zhang of Canada. The Indian teenager was erratic in her shot select and gifted away several points. Lacking in maturity, the Delhi girl's lapses were visible when she let the Canadian take the first game despite the Indian's 6-0 lead. Zhang, who won 4-3, was the cleverer of the two to make a match of it, winning the crucial points as Manika wilted under pressure.

In the women's doubles, Mouma Das and K Shamini lost to the top-seeded duo of Feng Tianwei and Mengyu Yu of Singapore 0-3.

In the other semifinal, England's Joanna Parker and Kelly Sibley beat the Indian pair of Madhurika Patkar and Neha Aggarwal 3-1.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Table Tennis Federation (CTTF) nominated Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) Chief, P.C. Chaturvedi as president of the CTTF, while inducting Ganeshan Neelakanta Iyer, the chief referee at the championships here, as the full member of its technical committee during the AGM held on Thursday.

Chan Foong Keong of Malaysia has been nominated as the Ssecretary-General, according to Allan Ramsome, chairman of the international body.

Chaturvedi, whoses term as president is for the next two years, replaced Helen Hamilton, who passed away recently.


Final: (Men): Singles: Zhan Jian (Sin) bt Li Hu 12-10, 11-7, 11-13, 12-10, 11-4; Semifinals: Zhan Jian (Sing) bt Chen Feng (Sin) 11-7, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9, Li Hu (Sin) bt A. Sharath Kamal (Ind) 12-10, 11-7, 11-13, 12-10, 11-4.

Doubles: Final: Zhan Jian/Yang Zi (Sin) bt Chiristopher Doran/Saumel Walker (Eng) 13-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-3; Semifinals: Christopher Doran/Samuel Walker (Eng) bt A. Sharath Kamal/Subhajit Saha (Ind) 3-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7, Zhan Jian/Yang Zi (Sin) bt Andrew Baggaley/Daniel Reed (Eng) 11-5, 11-3, 11-4.

Final: (Women): Singles: Zhang Mo (Can) bt Yu Mengyu (Sin) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6, 5-11, 10-12, 8-11, 11-8; Semifinals: Yu Mengyu (Sin) bt Mouma Das (Ind) 11-8, 15-17, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4, Zhang Mo (Sin) bt Manika Batra (Ind) 11-9, 10-12, 12-10, 6-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6.

Doubles: Final: Feng Tianwel/Yu Mengyu (Sin) bt Joana Parker/Kelly Sibley (Eng) 9-11, 11-7, 11-2, 11-3; Semifinals: Feng Tianwei/Yu Mengyu (Sin) bt K. Shamini/Mouma Das (Ind) 11-9, 11-9, 11-2, Joanna Parker/Kelly Sibley (Eng) bt Neha Aggarwal/Madhurika Patkar (Ind) 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9.

--IBNS (Posted on 11-05-2013)

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