Indian table tennis legend Achanta Sharath Kamal defied age and produced a class act to reach the men’s singles final, but G Sathiyan lost his semifinal contest at the Commonwealth Games here on Sunday. The 40-year-old paddler, who won a bronze medal in the last edition in Gold Coast, defeated England’s Paul Drinkhall 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8 to reach his second CWG final.
The only other time Sharath, fourth seeded here, made it to the final, he returned with a gold in the 2006 edition in Melbourne. final, Sharath has already assured himself of a silver and has increased his CWG medal count to 12. His mixed doubles gold medal match is scheduled later in the day.
Sharath will team up with Sreeja Akula and eye a gold in the mixed event against Javen Choong and Karen Lyne. Third seed Sathiyan, however, failed to set up an all-Indian final, losing 5-11, 11-4, 8-11, 9-11, 9-11 to second seed Liam Pitchford of England.
Sharath will play Pitchford in the gold medal match on Monday, while Sathiyan will battle it out against Drunkhall for a bronze medal. Earlier in the day, the seasoned pair of Sharath and G Sathiyan was outsmarted by familiar foes Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford of England in the men’s doubles final.
The Indian duo had to settle for silver for the second successive edition after losing 11-8, 8-11, 3-11, 11-7, 4-11 to the English combine. It was a repeat of the 2018 final in Gold Coast and to the disappointment of the Indians, it was the same result.
The Indian contingent has been getting tons of support from the crowd here but at the NEC table tennis arena on Sunday, English fans outnumbered the Indians. With very little separating the two pairs, the Indians began well with Sathiyan hitting a crisp forehand winner to go 1-0 up in the gold medal match.
Drinkhall and Pitchford fought back in the second game. A down-the-line backhand from Pitchford made it 5-1 for England. The Indians were having a tough time retrieving the serve with their opponents mixing things up. Sharath’s returns from the backhand were yielding mixed results. Pitchford’s cross-court winner after a long rally gave England a 7-5 lead before they levelled the tie.
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The English pair ran away with the third game which had the best rally of the match which Indians won after trading a series of booming forehands far away from the table. The Indians were able to take the final to the decider after course correction in the fourth game.
However, Drinkhall and Pitchford took a huge six point lead from 4-4 to gain six gold medal points in the fifth game. They converted the very first one drawing a huge roar from the crowd. The Indian pair shook hand with its opponents who once again proved better on the day.