India’s men paddlers entered the final of the team championship at the 19th Commonwealth Championships, beating England, while the women went down fighting to the same opponents, in the semi-finals, in Delhi, on Tuesday.
While the men prevailed 3-2, the women's team lost 2-3 and had to settle for the bronze medal.
The Indian men will now take on mighty Singapore, who defeated Malaysia 3-0, in Wednesday’s final.
The host team, seeded above England, was shocked in the first match when Achantha Sharath Kamal was humbled by 545-ranked Samuel Walker.
The young Englishman, who is celebrating his 19th birthday, won 12-10, 4-11, 12-10, 11-9 to give visitors a 1-0 lead.
But Soumyajit Ghosh sprung up a surprise as he crushed England's leading medal winner of all-time at the Commonwealth Games, Andrew Baggaley, in straight games.
With his aggressive forehand play, Ghosh registered a resounding 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 victory over the five-time Commonwealth Games medal winner to level the rubber for the hosts.
England's highest ranked player in the tournament, Baggaley (143) looked woefully out of touch and was comprehensively beaten by Sharath Kamal in the reverse match after India's Harmeet Desai lost to Daniel Reed.
The onus was thus on Soumyajit to take the Indians to the final and he faced the paddler who was Sharath Kamal’s nemesis in the opening match.
The 19-year-old Ghosh, with minimum fuss, got the better off Walker 11-7, 12-10, 11-6 to enter the final of the event for the fifth successive time.
“I was little nervous when Sharath bhaiya lost his match. I had beaten (Andrew) Baggaley in the World team championships last year and was confident of beating him again. I was on top of my game today," Ghosh said.
Earlier, trailing 0-2 in the semi-finals, the Indian women posed a fearless challenge to the higher-seeded English side at the Thyagaraj stadium.
In the first contest, Mouma Das twice came from behind before losing to Kelly Sibley 2-3.
Experienced England paddler Joanna Parker overwhelmed Madhurika Patkar in straight games.
Neha Aggrawal, who had on Monday shocked world No 91 of Singapore, looked at ease against Hannah Hicks as she won the opening two games 11-7, 11-9. However, in the next two, the Delhi girl made several unforced errors that allowed Hicks to come back into the match and level it 2-2.
Neha, however, did not give up. Playing an attacking game, she won 11-9 and wrapped up the match.
The Indian team had a great opportunity to humble the English side when Mouma sailed past Parker, the visitors’ most experienced campaigner 11-4, 11-6, 11-3. But in the decider she lost to Sibley.
The Indian started off well and claimed the first game. The 24-year-old English girl, however, came back strongly to win the next three to set up a gold medal clash against Singapore.
"I was nervous at the start of the final match. I was rushing in the first game and conceded points. In the subsequent games I was more relaxed. We have played the Indian team before and knew their weak points," Sibley said after her match.
"In the final we have nothing to lose as we will be up against the best side," she added.
Image: Soumyajit Ghosh
Photograph: by Feng Li/Getty Images