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Indian men’s TT team defends Commonwealth title in style to win gold

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The Indian men’s table tennis team retained its title by defeating Singapore 3-1 at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Tuesday. The doubles pair of Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai won their match to give India the lead before Clarence Chew beat veteran Sharath Kamal 1-1 to level 1-1. But then Sathiyan and Harmeet won the gold medal for India by winning their singles matches. This was India’s fifth gold in the ongoing Games.

Sathiyan was the star of the show as he got India off to the right start in doubles by first cowboying Harmeet and then producing brilliant combative table tennis to win the pressure match to give India a 2-1 lead after defeating veteran Sharath Kamal .

Harmeet was also as cucumber as he beat Sharath Kamal’s winner Chew in straight games to give India the yellow metal.

World no. 121 Harmeet defeated 133rd ranked JU Clarence Chew 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 in the third singles to secure the men’s team’s third gold medal in Commonwealth Games history. Manchester was India’s seventh gold since the start of the game in 2002, with India expected to beat Singapore, but Clarence leveled the match 1–1 for veteran Sharath Kamal in the first singles.

Harmeet and Sathiyan had some trouble getting ahead of Yong Izak Kyu and Ye An Koen Pang in the opening doubles.

Sathiyan gave India a 2-1 lead with a 12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4 victory over lower-order Pang.

The stand-out performance came from India’s third player Harmeet.

Sharath struggled to stop Clarence but Harmeet took an aggressive stand against the left-hander and made sure he didn’t find room to go for his powerful forehand winners. Harmeet’s backhand was also on fire as he won most of the long rallies.

In the first singles, Sharath lost against Clarence 7-11, 14-12, 3-11, 9-11.

Whenever, the Indian put the ball on Clarence’s forehand, the return was the winner.

Two net cords helped Sharath in the second game but Clarence comfortably went on to win the next two games.

India had defeated Sharath’s strong rival from world number 15 Aruna Qadri in Nigeria on Monday. But his defeat on Tuesday against a much lower-ranked opponent showed that rankings did not matter much in a multi-sport event.

India won team gold for the first time in 2006 in Melbourne, before repeating the feat at the Gold Coast four years earlier.

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This was also Sharath’s 10th medal in the history of the Games and he is set to increase further in singles and doubles events.

(with PTI inputs)

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