Commonwealth TT: Ghosh guides India to second straight final

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Nineteen-year-old Soumyajit Ghosh helped India edge out England 3-2 for a place in the men’s team final at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships here Tuesday.

Singapore beat Scotland in the other semifinal, setting up a repeat title clash after Glasgow 2009. The biennial tournament was not held in 2011.

The Indian women’s team, however, suffered a heart-breaking 2-3 loss against England to settle for a bronze medal. Coach Bhawani Mukherjee said he could not pick the best team for the crucial match after senior player and reigning national champion Shamini Kumaresan made herself unavailable citing “low confidence”.

The men too looked to be swept away by the English outfit until Ghosh produced one of his best performances to win both his matches.

The start of the semifinals spelt huge trouble for the hosts with World No.69 Sharath Kamal falling flat against 502-ranked Samuel Walker. India’s best player looked sluggish for the major part of the contest and his little-known opponent took advantage of that for a 12-10, 4-11, 12-10, 11-9 win.

Ghosh was then up against the experienced Andrew Baggaley.

The Siliguri-born paddler, who became the youngest national champion earlier in the year, played a flawless match under pressure to put India on level terms. The match score line read 11-7, 11-8, 11-4.

Ghosh’s contemporary Harmeet Desai was chosen as the third player ahead of higher-ranked Anthony Amalraj with coach Kamlesh Mehta giving more consideration to current form.

The ploy failed as Desai mixed brilliance with some erratic shots to lose in five games 5-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 7-11. Service faults at key moments of the match hurt him badly.

With India trailing 1-2, Sharath needed to step up his game in the first reverse singles. And he did just that by defeating a familiar opponent in Baggaley 11-9, 11-7, 11-7.

It was all down to Ghosh now to take India to their second successive final at the Championships.

The situation was tense but the World No.189 did not seem affected by it against Sharath’s conqueror – Samuel Walker. Ghosh dealt with him through percentage play and when that appeared to be not enough, he unleashed some powerful forehand winners.

He won a tight second game to double the advantage with Walker erring on his serve. The match had a fair share of long entertaining rallies. One such rally led to first match point for Ghosh, which proved enough for an 11-7, 12-10, 11-6 victory.

“It was one of my best efforts at the senior level. It feels good that I was able to do the job for my country. There was pressure but I was determined to give my best for the country,” said Ghosh.

Results (Semifinals):

Men: India bt England 3-2 (Sharath Kamal lost to Samuel Walker 10-12, 11-4, 10-12, 9-11, Soumyajit Ghosh bt Andrew Baggaley 11-7, 11-8, 11-4, Harmeet Desai lost to Daniel Reed 5-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 7-11, Sharath Kamal bt Andrew Baggaley 11-9, 11-7, 11-7, Soumyajit Ghosh bt Samuel Walker 11-7, 12-10, 11-6), Singapore bt Scotland 3-0 (Zhan Jian bt Sean Doherty 11-3 11-9, 11-5, Li Hub t Craig Howieson 11-8, 11-6, 11-5, Chen Feng lost to Gavin Rumgay 11-13, 10-12, 8-11, Zhan Jian bt Craig Howieson 11-8, 5-11, 11-9, 11-4).

Women: England bt India 3-2 (Kelly Sibley bt Mouma Das 11-5, 9-11, 14-12, 6-11, 11-7, Joanna Parker bt Madhurika Patkar 11-5, 6-11, 11-7, Hannah Hicks lost to Neha Aggarwal 7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, Joanna Parker lost to Mouma Das 4-11, 6-11, 3-11, Kelly Sibley bt Madhurika Patkar 4-11, 11-2, 11-9, 6-11), Singapore bt Malaysia 3-0 (Feng Tianwei bt Ting Hie Phim 11-6, 11-5, 11-4, Yu Mengyu bt Beh Lee Wei 12-10, 11-8, 11-1, Lin Ye bt Ho Ying 11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8).

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