Birmingham: India's hopes of retaining the women's table tennis team gold medal ended on Saturday with the team led by Manika Batra crashing out 3-2 to Malaysia in the quarterfinals at the Commonwealth Games 2022 here on Saturday.
The Indian team had three young players besides the experienced Manika, the highest-ranked women's paddler in the country, who found the going tough against the Malaysians. Incidentally, the Indians had defeated Malaysia 3-0 while surging to the gold medal win in 2018.
India started on a negative note as the doubles pair of Reeth Tennison and Sreeja Akula went down 7-11, 6-11, 11-5, 6-11 to Karen Lyne and Li Sian Alice Chang.
Manika, ranked 41st in the world, pulled India level, though she struggled to score a narrow 3-2 win against 556th-ranked Ho Ying, squandering a two-game advantage before winning the fifth game for an 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 9-11, 11-3 win.
Sreeja then won the second singles against Li Sian Alica Chang in straight games to give India 2-1 lead, beating the Malaysian 11-6, 11-6, 11-9. However, the big shocker came when Manika lost to her lower-ranked Malaysian opponent Karen Lyne in straight games. She went down 6-11, 3-11, 8-11 as the tie was level 2-2.
It all came down to Reeth to win the match against Ho Ying in the fifth rubber but the 26-year-old went down 3-2 in the decider. Reeth won the first game 12-10 but lost 8-11 in the second. She won the third game 6-11 but the Malaysian fought back once again, winning the fourth game 11-9. Reeth put up a superb fight in the fifth and deciding game but lost 9-11 as India's campaign ended on a disappointing note.
The Indian players will now get a couple of days rest to prepare for the individual events in which Manika had won the gold medal four years ago in Gold Coast. She will also compete in women's doubles with Reeth and mixed doubles with G Sathiyan.