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Sharath-Akula win C'wealth Games mixed doubles TT gold

Last updated on: August 08, 2022 05:44 IST

Sharath Kamal

IMAGE: Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sreeja Akula celebrate on the podium after winning the Commonwealth Games Mixed doubles Table Tennis gold on Sunday. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Indian table tennis legend Achanta Sharath Kamal defied age while teaming up with young Sreeja Akula to win the Mixed doubles gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Sunday.

Barring a blip in the second game, Sharath and Akula were in control of the gold medal contest, comfortably beating Malaysia's Javen Choong and Karen Lyne 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6.

Sharath produced a class act to also reach the men's singles final.

Sharath Kamal

IMAGE: Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sreeja Akula celebrate victory. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

The 40-year-old paddler, who won a bronze medal in the last edition of the Commonwealth Games in Australia's Gold Coast, defeated England's Paul Drinkhall 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8 in the men's singles to reach his second CWG final.

The only other time Sharath, seeded fourth at the ongoing Games, made it to the final, he returned with a gold, in the 2006 edition in Melbourne.

By reaching the final, Sharath has already assured himself of a silver and increased his CWG medal count to 13.

For Akula, it was her maiden Commonwealth Games medal.

IMAGE: Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan pose with their silver medals after losing the men's doubles final to Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Earlier, the seasoned Indian pair of Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan was outsmarted by familiar English foes Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford in the men's doubles final.


The duo had to settle for silver for the second successive edition after losing 11-8, 8-11, 3-11, 11-7, 4-11.

It was a repeat of the 2018 final in the Gold Coast and, to the disappointment of the Indians, it was the same result.

The Indian contingent has been getting tons of support from the crowd at the Games, but at the NEC table tennis arena on Sunday, English fans outnumbered the Indians.

With very little separating the two pairs, the Indians began well, Sathiyan hitting a crisp forehand winner to go 1-0 up in the gold medal match.

Drinkhall and Pitchford fought back in the second game. A down the line backhand from Pitchford made it 5-1 for England.

The Indians were having a tough time retrieving the serve, with their opponents mixing things up.

IMAGE: Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan had to settle for silver for the second successive edition of Commonwealth Games. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Sharath's returns from the backhand were yielding mixed results. Pitchford's cross-court winner after a long rally gave England a 7-5 lead before they levelled the tie.  

The English pair ran away with the third game, which had the best rally of the match, the Indians winning it after trading a series of booming forehands far away from the table.  

The Indians were able to take the final to the decider after course correction in the fourth game.

However, Drinkhall and Pitchford took a huge six-point lead from 4-4 to gain six gold medal points in the fifth game.

They converted the very first one, drawing a huge roar from the crowd. The Indian pair shook hand with their opponents who once again proved better on the day.

IMAGE: India's Sreeja Akula went down to Australia's Yangzi Liu 3-4 in a thrilling bronze medal play-off. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

India's Sreeja Akula suffered a heartbreaking loss, going down to Australia's Yangzi Liu 3-4 in a thrilling bronze medal play-off.

Sreeja lost 11-3, 6-11, 2-11, 11-7, 13-15, 11-9, 7-11 after staging a slew of comebacks in a match that lasted more than an hour-a-half.

The Hyderabad-born paddler made a confident start against Liu, who appeared quite nervous and took advantage of that to race to a 11-3 win the first game.

The Australian bounced back with more attacking intent and clinched the second game 11-6 to draw level.

Buoyed by her comeback in the second game, Liu continued from where she left off and did not allow the Indian to find any rhythm, winning the third game 11-2.

Sreeja, however, displayed the first signs of her never-say-die attitude and relied on her smart forehand plays to win the fourth game 11-7.

With the match score level 2-2, it was Liu once again who went ahead with a tight game and made it 15-13 in the fifth game.

The sixth game turned out to be a battle of wits between the two players but it was Sreeja, who showed her class by winning 11-9, after trailing 1-7 at one point.

The deciding set turned out to be something similar as Sreeja, despite trailing 1-6, made it 5-8.

But it was the Australian who had the last laugh and walked away with the bronze.

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