Commonwealth Games 2022 table tennis: G Sathiyan steps up to help India win second straight men’s team gold medal 

The experienced Indian men’s table tennis team was in a spot of bother after national champion Sharath Kamal went down in the second match of the tie.

By Ali Asgar Nalwala
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Clinical India edged past Singapore 3-1 in the final of the Commonwealth Games 2022 men’s team table tennis event to retain their title at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, UK, on Tuesday.

India fielded the tried and tested line-up for the summit tie as its top-ranked singles player Sathiyan Gnanasekaran teamed up with Harmeet Desai in the opening doubles match to beat Singapore’s Izaac Quek Yong and Pang Yew En Koen 3-0 (13-11, 11-7, 11-5).

The Indian table tennis pair, who was also instrumental in India’s gold medal win at Gold Coast 2018, raced to a 6-3 lead but were troubled by the Singaporean duo as the game progressed.

The right and left combination of 16-year-old Izaac Quek Yong and Pang Yew En Koen, 20, regrouped by taking the next four points and the lead. 

However, Harmeet Desai and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran mixed the flicks and top spins to mount a comeback. Despite giving away two game points, the Indians managed to hold on and won the crucial game.

The Indian pair was more assertive from thereon. With simple yet effective tactics, Harmeet Desai and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran made sure the momentum did not slip and took the second and third games with ease.

India’s national champion Sharath Kamal, who beat Nigeria’s world No. 15 Quadri Aruna in the semis, was flattened by Singapore’s world No. 133 Zhe Yu Clarence Chew 3-1 (11-7, 12-14, 11-3, 11-9) in a big upset.

Sharath Kamal, ranked 39th, was stunned by Zhe Yu Clarence Chew’s pace in the first game but used his forehand power and some luck on the net to win the next.

The 26-year-old Zhe Yu Clarence Chew completely dominated Sharath Kamal, 40, with a fine mix of diagonal and down-the-line shots. Sharath Kamal, despite leading 4-1 in the fourth game, failed to win the long rallies and gave Singapore an opening.

With India under pressure for the first time in the competition, Sathiyan Gnanasekarn responded with a 3-1 (10-12, 11-7, 7-11, 4-11) win over 20-year-old Pang Yew En Koen.

After a slow start, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran improved his intensity to win the game of halves. The Singaporean, with better pitching, took the next game.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran started anticipating Pang Yew En Koen’s top spins easily. The Indian went on the offensive and brought his team back into the lead.

Harmeet Desai, playing his only second singles match at Birmingham 2022, faced an uphill task against free-flowing Zhe Yu Clarence Chew, who beat Sharath Kamal in the second match.

The Indian, ranked 121st, was up for it and beat the energy-sapped Zhe Yu Clarence Chew 3-0 (11-8, 11-5, 11-6) with precise returns and help India win back-to-back golds.

Earlier in the competition, the Indian women’s team, led by their top table tennis player Manika Batra, suffered a major upset against Malaysia after going down 3-2 in the quarter-finals.

The men’s singles and doubles table tennis events at Birmingham 2022 will begin on Wednesday.

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