Birmingham: Harmeet Desai upped his game in the deciding singles as India’s men’s table tennis team retained their Commonwealth Games gold after a close fight against Singapore on Tuesday.
World no. 121 Harmeet beat 133rd-ranked Zhe Yu Clarence Chew, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 in the third singles to secure the third men’s tag team gold medal in CWG history.
The gold medal was India’s seventh since the sport’s inception in Manchester in 2002
India were expected to beat Singapore but Clarence represented veteran Sharath Kamal in the opening singles to tie the match at 1-1.
Harmeet and Sathiyan had little trouble passing Yong Izaak Que and Ye En Koen Pang in the first double.
Sathiyan had given India a 2-1 lead with a 12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4 win over lower-seeded Pang.
The standout performance came from India’s third player, Harmeet.
Sharath had struggled to contain Clarence but Harmeet went on the offensive against the southpaw and made sure he had no room for his powerful forehand winners. Harmeet’s backhand was also on fire as he won the majority of the long rallies.
In the first singles, Sharath lost 7-11, 14-12, 3-11, 9-11 to Clarence. Every time the Indian placed the ball deep on Clarence’s forehand, the return was a winner.
Two clean deals 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’s stunning world number 15, Aruna Quadri. But his loss to a much lower-ranked opponent on Tuesday showed that ranking doesn’t matter much in a multi-sport event.
India first won team gold in Melbourne in 2006 before repeating the feat in Gold Coast four years ago.
It was also Sharath’s 10th medal in Games history and he is expected to add more with singles and doubles events to follow.