Indian paddlers in finals at C'wealth
Indians shocked the fancied Nigerian men's team with a 3-2 win in semis.Updated: Mar 19, 2006 19:36 IST
The Indians shocked the fancied Nigerian men's team with a stunning 3-2 victory in the table tennis semifinals in the Commonwealth Games on Sunday.
The Indians will meet the winners of the contest between Singapore, who have some Chinese imports, and Wales in the finals. With the top two teams of the games out of their way, India have a good chance of wresting the gold medal.
Late Saturday night, India beat Canada in the quarterfinals 3-1 to enter the semifinals, while Nigeria stunned defending champions England by the same margin. Singapore had beaten Australia 3-2 and Wales beat Malaysia 3-1.
In the women's section, Indian girls lost to a very strong Singapore team 0-3 in the evening.
They will now vie for bronze in a play-off against Australia, who beat Canada 3-2.
The Singapore team had all three players of Chinese origin, as was the case in their badminton team, too.
In the men's section, Nigeria had Segun Toriola, the 2002 singles champion, and member of the silver medal winning team. Toriola won both his singles, but his teammates Kazeem Nasiru and Monday Merotohun were unable to deliver for Nigeria the third and crucial win.
"Our team has a very good chance," said India's table tennis manager Dhanraj Choudhary. "The boys have played really well. It has been a stunning performance and should do a lot of good for their confidence."
"The team is capable of beating both Wales and Singapore and the boys are very high on confidence."
In Manchester in 2002, India had won a bronze after reaching the semi-finals, and there were two other bronze medals from Chetan Baboor in men's singles and from Baboor and S Raman in men's doubles.
Two of the three members from this 2006 team were present in 2002, too. Soumyadeep Roy and Shubhajit Saha did duty then also, while Sharath has come in for the now retired Chetan Baboor.
Soumyadeep lost the opening match to Toriola in straight games, but then Sharath Kamal levelled matters by beating Nasiru in four games with the fourth going to extra points.
The crucial win came from Shubhajit, who stunned Monday Merotohun in five games and rallied from 1-2 b behind to win the last two games and the match.
"It was a very good performance, considering the importance of the clash," said Choudhary about Shubhajit's win. "But having said that I must also add that Sharath and Soumya's wins were equally important."
Sharath lost the fourth match to Toriola in straight games, but then Soumyadeep wrapped up the tie with a straight games win over Nasiru, but not before a good fight from the Nigerian. Soumya was taken to 15-13, before winning the first game. He won the next two games at 11-7 and 11-8 to complete a great win.
Men's semifinals: India beat Nigeria 3-2
Soumyadeep Roy lost to Segun Toriola 10-12, 6-11, 8-11
Sharath Kamal beat Kazeem Nasiru 7-11, 13-11, 11-5, 13-11
Shubhajit Saha beat Monday Merotohun 5-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8
Sharath Kamal lost to Segun Toriola 8-11, 4-11, 9-11
Soumyadeep Roy beat Kazeem Nasiru 15-13, 11-7, 11-8
Women's semifinals: India lost to Singapore 0-3
Poulomi Ghatak lost to Li Jia Wei 3-11, 11-9, 4-11, 7-11
Mouma Das lost to Zhang Xue Ling 5-11, 7-11, 7-11
Nandita Saha lost to Yan Xu 6-11, 4-11, 3-11
First Published: Mar 19, 2006 11:16 IST