Surat, Dec 20 (IANS) Indian men were guaranteed three singles medal while leaving the fourth one to Singapore in the Avadh 20th Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at the Pandit Dindayal Upadhyay Indoor Stadium here on Sunday. But the bigger news is that the Indians looked like overhauling their best ever tally of nine medals, including more golds, as the hosts have already assured themselves of medals in doubles in both the sections, apart from the team gold and silver. Soumyajit Ghosh rolled over his Scottish rival Gavin Rumgay 11-4, 11-8, 11-6, 12-10, but G. Sathiyan fell to the world No. 176 Chen Feng of Singapore 11-13, 11-9, 7-11, 10-12, 11-4, 5-11.
Saithiyan has to blame himself for squandering the fourth game after a sizeable 10-7 lead which allowed Chen came back strongly and reach the semi-finals. If only he had won, it would have given him a comfortable 3-1 lead and confidence to go over the hurdle. Yet the Indian presence in the semi-finals became evident as in the all-Indian quarter-finals, Anthony Amalraj taught a lesson or two to southpaw Abhishek Yadav, winning the match 11-4, 11-4, 11-4, 11-2 in flat 22 minutes. Abhishek, ranked way below his rival (212), could not counter the speedy Amalraj despite possessing good strokes and went down without a murmur. In contrast, left-handed Sanil Shetty (267) overcame local boy and higher-ranked (155) Harmeet Desai 9-11, 4-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5.
The turnaround in the match was the fourth game where Sanil was allowed too much leeway as Harmeet was error-prone but steady at 2-3. The Surat paddler still had his chance coming, but Sanil mounted pressure and took the fifth in the nick of time by a minimal points. And, in the decider, Sanil attacked right from the word go and Harmeet wilted, surrendering meekly. With two Singapore players in the women’s quarter-finals, it was always going to be difficult for the hosts’ paddlers and that is precisely what happened with Ankita Das and K. Shamini. Nevertheless both Mouma Das and Manika Batra assured each at least a bronze medal.