BIRMINGHAM: Defending champions India, led by star paddler Manika Batra, crashed out of the women's table tennis team event in the Commonwealth Games after losing to Malaysia 3-2 in the quarterfinals here on Saturday.
After recording an easy win in a group stage match earlier in the day, the Indian women's team lost to Malaysia in the last-eight stage. Batra won one singles match and lost the other as the Indian team made a pre-mature exit from the tournament.
India were on the backfoot after the pair of Reeth Tennison and Sreeja Akula lost the opening doubles match 1-3 (7-11 6-11 11-5 6-11) before Batra levelled the tie with a 3-2 (11-8 11-5 8-11 9-11 11-3) win over Ying Ho in the singles.
Akula then made amends of the doubles loss as she thrashed Li Sian Alice Chang 3-0 (11-6 11-6 11-9). But Batra failed to seal the tie for India as she lost to Karen Lyne 3-0 (6-11 3-11 9-11) in the crucial fourth match as Malaysia made another comeback in the tie.
Malaysia took advantage of the momentum as Ying Ho beat Tennison 3-2 (10-12 11-8 6-11 11-9 11-9 ) in a tight deciding match to break Indian hearts.
Earlier in the day, the Indian women's team had outclassed Guyana 3-0 in a Group 2 match.
The women's team, defending the title it had won at Gold Coast four years ago, had enjoyed a winning start to its campaign on Friday after crushing South Africa and Fiji by identical 3-0 margins.
On the second competition day, the first to turn up was the pair of Akula and Tennison and it steamrolled Natalie Cummings and Chealsea Edghill 11-5 11-7 11-7 to put India 1-0 ahead.
Then, reigning Commonwealth Games champion Batra, who became the first Indian paddler to win a gold in the women's singles in the last edition, decimated Thuraia Thomas in straight games 11-1 11-3 11-3.
In another woman's singles match, Tennison fought hard to register a 11-7 14-12 13-11 win against Chealsea Edghill, who put up a spirited show. Her win ensured that India won the tie convincingly.
The Indian men's team continued its impressive show by recording its second straight win with a 3-0 thrashing of Northern Ireland.
Veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal paired up with Harmeet Desai to beat James Skelton and Owen Cathcart 11-3 9-11 11-6 11-1 in men's doubles to hand India a 1-0 lead.
Sanil Shetty then beat Paul McCrerry 11-5 15-13 11-6 to extend India's lead.
But Harmeet Desai had to dig deep before prevailing over Catchcart 5-11 11-9 12-14 11-3 11-6 in a hard-fought second singles match.