Birmingham: Harmeet Desai raised his game in the decisive singles as the Indian men’s table tennis team retained its Commonwealth Games gold medal after a close fight against Singapore here on Tuesday.
World no. 121 Harmeet outsmarted 133rd-ranked Zhe Yu Clarence Chew 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 in the third singles to ensure India’s third gold men’s team medal in CWG history.
The gold was India’s seventh since the sport’s inception in Manchester 2002 India were expected to beat Singapore but Clarence accounted for veteran Sharath Kamal in the first singles to level the match at 1-1.
Harmeet and Sathiyan had little difficulty in getting past Yong Izaak Que and Ye En Koen Pang in the opening doubles.
Sathiyan had given India a 2-1 lead with a 12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4 victory over lower-ranked Pang.
The stand-out performance came from India’s third player, Harmeet.
Sharath had struggled to contain Clarence but Harmeet went on the offensive against the left-hander and ensured that he did not get room to go for his powerful forehand winners. Harmeet’s backhand was also on fire as he won majority of the long rallies.
In the first singles, Sharath went down 7-11, 14-12, 3-11,9-11 against Clarence.
Whenever, the Indian placed the ball deep on Clarence’s forehand, the return was a winner.
Two net chords helped Sharath in the second game but Clarence comfortably won the next two.
India had beaten a stronger opponent in Nigeria on Monday with Sharath stunning world number 15 Aruna Quadri. But his loss against a much lower ranked opponent on Tuesday showed rankings did not matter much in a multi sporting event.
India had won the team gold for the first in Melbourne 2006 before repeating the feat in Gold Coast four years ago.
It was also Sharath’s 10th medal in the Games history and he is set to add more with singles and doubles events to follow.