Sharath, Sathiyan inspire India to TT gold

Harmeet Desai (left) and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (right) celebrate India's gold. Getty Images

Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran played starring roles as India blanked Nigeria 3-0 to pick up the table tennis men's team gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Monday. India had made the final on the back of a win over two-time defending champions Singapore earlier in the day.

This is India's second gold in the men's team event at the Games, emulating their previous best performance in 2006 in Melbourne, another campaign that Sharath was a part of. This is also India's second gold in the table tennis event in Gold Coast, following the women's team gold on Sunday inspired by a virtuoso performance from Manika Batra.

World No.48 Sharath was slow to start his singles match against Abiodun Bode, ranked 296 in the world, losing the first game with a few unforced errors, before recovering to register a 4-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 win. Sathiyan, now the top-ranked Indian at 46, then faced World No.166 Segun Toriola -- also a part of the Nigerian team that took the men's team bronze in 2006 when India won gold the last time. Sathiyan prevailed 10-12, 11-3, 11-3, 11-4 in the second singles rubber, with the final point of the match producing a 24-point rally, the longest among all matches in the tie.

Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai then combined for the doubles against Omotayo Olajide and Bode, beating them 11-8, 11-5, 11-3.

Earlier, Sharath was instrumental in setting up a thrilling 3-2 win Singapore in the semi-finals. Sharath won both his singles matches in straight games, against Shao Feng Poh and Xue Jie Pang, while the Indian pair of Sathiyan and Desai beat Jie Pang and Poh 8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 in the doubles rubber. Singapore would go on to lose the bronze medal match 3-0 to England, finishing outside the podium for the first time in the men's team event at the Commonwealth Games, since the sport was first introduced in Manchester in 2002.

"I really was surprised in the first game how well Bode played, I made mistakes receiving his service and he had no problems with my service," Sharath said after the match. "From the second game onwards I changed my services, I served more to his backhand, not middle forehand and made sure I was the first to attack.

"At 10-7 in the fourth game I saw the winning post, I was rushing so at 10-9 I took the Time Out. I think we were lucky, it's good we didn't play Nigeria in the morning."