Birmingham: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai set the tone for the Table Tennis men’s team final by winning the opening doubles and then did not take their foot off the pedal in their respective singles matches to take India to a 3-1 win against Singapore in the final.
It was India’s second gold medal of the day after the women in Lawn Bowls took the gold medal home. India now has five gold medals, four silver and three bronze and is sixth in the medals tally.
After Sathiyan and Desai won the doubles in straight games, Zhe Yiu Clarence Chew beat Achanta Sharath Kamal in four games for Singapore’s lone point in the tie.
Sathiyan dropped a game but his superiority was never in doubt as he beat Yen En Koen Pang 3-1 and then Desai wrapped it up quickly outplaying
Clarence Chew in straight games for a 3-1 win in the tie and with it ensured that Indian defended the team title they won in 2018.
Desai was on the offensive against the left-hander Chew, something Sharath had been unable to do. Desai also did not give Chew any room for his powerful forehand shots and he himself played superbly with his backhand shots.
Sharath Kamal, now 40, and playing his Commonwealth Games, has to be India’s greatest table tennis player ever. He won his 10th Commonwealth Games medal, of which five are gold – three from team (2006, 2018 and 2022), one individual singles (2006) and one from men’s doubles (2010).
“Hopefully there will be some more at these Games, itself,” he laughed and said. “It does not matter if I lose my singles as long as the team wins and that, too, gold,” he said. It was his first loss in the competition. Sharath had stunned World No. 15 Aruna Quadri in the semi-final.
On today’s final, he said, “Today the man of the match was (Harmeet) Desai. The way he played his doubles and the singles, just hats off. Especially in the final, when somebody can play at that level, our job gets easier.”
Sharath was due to play the fifth and match of the tie, in case Desai lost. “I was preparing for my match [fifth match] until the last one [ball]. I didn’t know how Harmeet would play and we can’t take chances.”
Desai, when told that Sharath had called him the ‘Man of the Match, smiled and said, “
“He’s (Sharath) is very generous to say that because he’s a great player. In the semi-finals [against Nigeria], it was him who won the very important match against Quadri Aruna.”
“This time, it was my time to prove my worth, and I’m happy that I could win this match but also it’s a team effort. I would say there is no man of the match, but everybody was playing very good in this match.”
On saving Sharath from having to play the fifth game, Desai added, “I wanted that because I wanted to finish off early. I was a little bit sure that if he came to the court in the fifth match, he had a better chance to win. I didn’t want to go to the fifth match. I wanted it to finish it off in the fourth match, and I’m happy that I could do that. (Singaporean) Chew was in great shape, so I’m really happy that I could win that match.”
India had won the team gold for the first time in Melbourne 2006 before repeating the feat in Gold Coast four years ago.
Results: India beat Singapore 3-1
Harmeet Desai / G Sathiyan beat Yong Izaac / Koen Pang 13-11, 11-7, 11-5
Sharath Kamal lost to Clarence 7-11, 14-12, 3-11, 9-11
Sathiyan G beat Yen En Koen Pang 12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4
Harmeet Desai beat Zhe Yu Clarence Chew 11-8, 11-5, 11-6;