Gold Coast, April 8 (IANS) Singles star Manika Batra won two matches as India’s women’s table tennis team upset favourites Singapore to clinch its maiden gold medal at the 21st Commonwealth Games here on Sunday.
Singapore came into this match as the defending champions and have won the event at every edition since it was first introduced in 2002 while India’s best display was a runner-up finish in Delhi in 2010.
Unperturbed by the status of their opposition, Indian paddlers played valiantly till the end to taste the gold.
In the first rubber, World No.58 Batra upset World No.4 Tianwei Feng 3-2 (11-8, 8-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7) to take the 1-0 lead.
In all the five close games, Batra held her nerves and stood up to the pressure situation. At one point she had no answers to her opponents’ questions but then she rebuilt her strategy and played sensibly till the end.
The second game saw Singapore bouncing back in style. Mengyu Yu outplayed Madhurika Patkar (3-0) 13-11, 11-2, 11-6 in straight games to equalise. The Indian player, however, attacked and played some furious forehands but that was not enough to win the game as her opponent possessed superior technical skills.
In the third match, doubles pair of Mouma Das and Patkar played attacking game throughout to seal the issue 3-1 (11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7) against Mengyu and Yihan Zhou and hand India a 2-1 crucial advantage.
At some stages of the game, Yu-Zhou appeared to recover from their slow starts but aggressive counter attacking game from the Indian duo helped them outplaying their opponents.
India were now ahead 2-1 and they only have to win their next match to clinch the medal.
India’s best ranked player assigned for her job, Batra did it in style by applying pressure with an attacking approach which saw her outscoring Yihan (3-0) 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 in straight games.
Earlier, India thrashed England 3-0 in the semi-final to enter the gold medal match of the prestigious meet.
Seasoned campaigner Batra gave India an early 1-0 lead after bouncing back from one game down to beat Kelly Sibley 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 in the first singles tie and Patkar doubled India’s lead after overcoming a stiff contest from Tin-Tin Ho to win 11-7, 13-11, 10-12, 11-8 in the second singles match.
India’s win was sealed by the doubles pair of Das and Patkar, who edged past Maria Tsaptsinos and Kelly 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 11-1.