Manika leads India to historic gold


DHNS

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Manika Batra inspired India to a historic gold medal with her stunning singles victories, fashioning an unthinkable 3-1 victory over four-time gold medallists Singapore in the final of the women’s team event at the Commonwealth Games here on Sunday.

World No 58 Manika first scored the biggest win of her career by humbling World No 4 and multiple Olympic medallist Feng Tianwei 3-2 before brushing aside 100th-ranked Yihan Zhou 3-0 to engineer a sensational win over the mighty Singapore side.

It was the mother of all upsets as prior to this final, the Singapore women’s team had never lost in the Commonwealth Games since the sport was inducted into the program way back in 2002.

The victory tasted even sweeter as the women had returned empty-handed from the Glasgow edition four years ago. It was only the second table tennis team gold for India at the Games with the men achieving the feat in the 2006 Melbourne edition.

Earlier on Sunday, India had blanked England 3-0 to reach the women’s team final for the second time.

While Manika was the architect of India’s historic win against Singapore, the experienced pairing of Madhurika Patkar and Mouma Das played the supporting role to perfection by winning the crucial doubles tie 3-1 (11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7) against Zhou and Mengyu Yu for a 2-1 lead in the final.

After Manika shocked Feng 3-2 (11-8, 8-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7) in the opening singles, Mengyu had equalised for Singapore with a 13-11, 11-2, 11-6 win over Madhurika.

Manika then proved too good for Yihan, who failed to read her deceptive strokes. The Singaporean put a backhand long as the Indian completed an 11-7, 11-4, 11-7, leading to wild celebrations.

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