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Indian men create golden history

Mouma guides Indian women to bronze medal, beating Guang in decider


GRAND FIGHT BACK: Members of the Indian men's table tennis team - (left to right) Subhajit Saha, Soumyadeep Roy, Sharath Kamal and Sibaji Dutta - celebrate a dramatic victory in Melbourne on Monday. The team staged an inspired comeback from 0-2 down to beat Singapore 3-2 to take the gold medal in the 18th Commonwealth Games. It was a day when Indian shooters added three gold medals and a silver to their kitty.

MELBOURNE: The Indian men's table tennis team made history, pipping fancied Singapore 3-2 after being 0-2 down and earning its first ever Commonwealth Games gold here on Monday. The final, which went right down to the wire, was a thriller all the way.

``It is a golden day for Indian table tennis,'' said team manager Dhanraj Choudhary, as the players went wild with joy.

Earlier in the day, the Indian women had beaten Canada 3-2 to claim their first ever Games bronze medal. Singapore had the satisfaction of winning the gold in this event, beating Australia 3-2.

Nobody gave India a chance and when Singapore won the first two matches, a defeat looked imminent. However, the Indian paddlers did not give up and the trio of Subhajit Saha, A. Sharath Kamal and Soumyadeep Roy displayed tremendous grit and fighting qualities to claw back into the match.

``We played well. We knew we had no other way but to fight after losing the first two matches. I am glad that we eventually succeeded. It was a great victory,'' said an emotional Sharath.

``We never expected a gold but once we reached the final, we were determined to give it our best shot and the rest is for everybody to see,'' he added.

Good start

Singapore's Zi Yang gave his side a dream start, routing Soumyadeep Roy in straight games. Li Xiao Cai made it 2-0, overcoming Sharath in five games. The latter even led 2-1 at one stage but Xiao prevailed.

Just when it looked that it was all over for India, Subhajit Saha overpowered Jason Ho in four games to reduce the margin.

Sharath then played the match of his life. The Indian battled it out against fancied Zi Yang and after exchanging leads twice, he clinched the issue in the crucial fifth game to win the match 3-2 and drew India level.

In the decider, Soumyadeep Roy held his nerve to pull off an upset win over Xiao 3-1 to clinch a memorable gold for the country.

In the women's bronze medal match, Mouma guided India to an exciting 3-2 win over Canada. With the tie at 2-2, Mouma displayed steely determination in the decider to give India the bronze.

India began well with Poulomi Ghatak putting the team ahead, shocking the formidable Guang Hong Xu 3-0. The Canadians drew level, as the higher ranked Mo Zhang overwhelmed Mouma in straight games.

Nandita Saha waged a grim battle against a determined Sara Yuen, before emerging a 3-1 winner. Saha managed just one point in the first game, but fought back superbly to give India a 2-1 advantage.

Zhang returned to make short work of Poulomi and the scoreline read 2-2. The Mouma-Guang match was keenly fought with both players giving nothing away. Guang took the first game but Mouma bagged the next two. In the fourth game, in her anxiety to finish off the match, the Indian committed unforced errors which Guang capitalised and made it 2-2.

In the final game, Mouma's experience and maturity came to the fore, as she attacked and defended well. She often left Guang stranded and wrapped up the game 11-5 to register a memorable win for India. — UNI

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