New Delhi: Indian paddlers continued to impress as both men's and women's teams assured themselves of at least two bronze medals by progressing to the semi-finals of the 19th Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships, here on Monday. Both teams have common rival in England in their respective semi-finals, to be played on Tuesday.
Men paddlers topped their group by winning all the three matches while women finished second behind Singapore. Women paddlers put up a brave fight a strong Singapore side before going down 1-3 in a league match. This after Indian team overwhelmed Scotland 3-0 in the opening match of the day.
The star of the day for the host was local girl Neha Aggrawal (430) who looked in sublime touch and created an upset by beating higher-ranked Yihan Zhou (91) and later went on to decimate Megan Phillips (11-2 11-4 11-1) in her sides game against Wales.
With team trailing 0-2 against overwhelming favourites Singapore, Neha humbled Zhou much to the delight of the Indian contingent. The local girl beat her opponent 11-6, 12-10, 7-11, 11-6 to seal the tie for the hosts. Earlier, Indians made a promising start with Mouma Das (231) taking the first game 11-7 against Singapore's Mengyu Fu displaying fearsome forehand shots.
Mouma, however, failed to maintain the momentum against the world no 27 and lost the next game 9-11. The Singaporean then went to take the two next games 11-5, 11-6.
Madhurika Patkar (317) also battled hard against Feng Tianwei, London Olympics bronze medallist from Singapore, before losing 2-11, 13-11, 2-11, 5-11. In the reverse match, a gritty Mouma battled out against Feng in a five-game encounter. She levelled twice before losing the steam in the final game to lose the match 5-11, 11-8, 5-11, 12-10, 11-4. In their final match, Indian eves comfortably eased past Welsh to finish second in their group.
Meanwhile, the mens team had an easy outing in their first encounter against Northern Ireland. The trio of Achantha Sharath Kamal, Soumyajit Ghosh and Sanil Shetty put up a clinical show to beat their opponents 3-0. The same team then went on to defeat Scotland by an identical margin.
In the final match, coach Kamlesh Mehta rested Kamal and Sanil Shetty against Malaysia. Promising youngster Harmeet Desai, playing his first match of the championship, did not disappoint as he brushed aside Dunley Foo 11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 11-5.
Soumyajit Ghosh and Anthony Amalraj too won their games easily to assure the host of the second medal of the championships. In the other semi-finals, top seeded Singapore mens and womens side will take on Scotland and Malaysia respectively. The finals of the team championships will be played May 8.
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