Glasgow: Indian men's table tennis team failed to secure a medal for the first time at the Commonwealth Games after being stunned 1-3 by Nigeria in the bronze medal play-off at the Scotstoun Sports Campus here today. India, who suffered a heartbreaking 1-3 loss against England in the semifinals last night, were found listless against a defiant Nigerian outfit.
The unexpected loss meant Indian men will return empty handed from the team event for the first time since the sport's introduction in the Games at Manchester in 2002. India's foreign coach Peter Engel had expected the paddlers to win at least three medals in Glasgow but that prospect looks unlikely with a blank in team events. India won a record five medals in Delhi four years ago. World No. 44 Sharath Kamal gave India a good start by getting past 153 ranked Segun Toriola 11-9 11-5 11-7 in the opening singles.
Games debutant Harmeet Desai was next up against Nigeria number one Aruna Quadri. But Desai, who nearly pulled off a sensational comeback win against England's World No.59 Liam Pitchford last night, was not as impressive against Quadri. The Nigerian proved too good for the 21-year-old Indian, dispatching him 11-7 11-8 9-11 11-5. The doubles rubber, making its debut at the Games, too went Nigeria's way.
The combine of Ojo Onaolapo and Toriola edged out Anthony Amalraj and Desai 3-11 11-9 11-5 9-11 11-9 for a 2-1 lead in the match. Sharath, a three-time CWG gold-medallist, now needed to beat World No.358 Onaolapo to keep India alive in the contest. But that wasn't to be as the celebrated paddler was left stunned by Onaolapo's fearless play, losing 9-11 11-3 7-11 5-11. "Sharath did not expect him (Onaolapo) to play so well. Sharath started slow and his opponent kept growing on confidence.
Having said that, Sharath was far too passive. I am very disappointed with the loss," Engel told PTI. The Indian women's team, silver medallists in Delhi, too disappointed by losing to Australia in the bronze medal match yesterday.
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