India's gold count stopped at 23, but Gagan Narang and Mairaj Ahmad Khan provided a memorable finish, albeit with silver medals, as the Commonwealth shooting championship concluded at the Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad on Saturday.
On a day when Shweta Chaudhary stopped a late surge by compatriot Annuraj Singh to bag the gold in women's air pistol, and Gurpreet Singh overcame a malfunctioning gun to beat the experienced Samaresh Jung for the standard pistol gold by two points, the focus stayed on the men who failed to deliver the gold.
Of course, Gagan Narang had already landed four gold and a silver from five events. He led the field in the 50-metre rifle prone event with a 596, but eventually lost the tie shoot 10.0 to 10.3 to the Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Warren Potent of Australia.
Quite composed and happy with the fine start to an important season, Narang observed that it was no shame losing the gold to the world No.1 after such a good fight. He said that he needed more training to fare better in three Olympic events.
The Aussies Thomas Versace and Warren Potent made a strong bid for the gold, and struck in the end when Narang faltered with a last shot 9.7.
After briefly falling behind after a 9.1 sixth shot, Narang had recovered the lead with shots of 10.5, 10.1 and 10.8. Potent covered 0.6 points on the last shot with a 10.3, to force the tie, and asserted his class yet again with another 10.3 in the tie-break.
Mairaj Ahmad Khan achieved his long time goal of reaching 120 out of 125 in skeet, and led the field, going into the final. He gave a brilliant account of himself, before losing the tie-shoot to Malcolm Allen of Wales on the tricky fourth station.
The strapping young man said that it was possibly owing to overconfidence that he lost the tie-shoot. He had felt the fourth station as his strong point and the gold, his own, once the competition meandered into the tie-shoot in that station.
With Arozepal Singh holding his nerve in the tie-shoot with three others, including compatriot P. P. Singh Guron for the bronze, it was indeed a memorable breakthrough for the Indian men who had earlier bagged the team gold.
Shweta Chaudhary asserted her fighting spirit, as she recovered from a bad 7.9 fifth shot to wrest the gold from the grip of Annuraj Singh.
Her 9.8 last shot as compared to a very late 9.2 by Annuraj did the trick for Shweta.
It was all smiles for the Indian camp as Pushpanjali Rana bagged the bronze.
It was a gutsy fare from Gurpreet Singh as he shot the last series of five shots in the 10-second series under pressure, all alone, knowing that he had to shoot better than Samaresh to snatch the gold.
Samaresh had won three gold medals earlier, and was all praise for Gurpreet, as he expressed happiness about his own overall form.
The host wound up with its best ever collection of 23 gold, 17 silver and eight bronze medals. Australia, Bangladesh, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales shared the other 13 gold medals.
50m free rifle prone: 1. Warren Potent (Aus) 697.5 (10.3) 595; 2. Gagan Narang 697.5 (10.0) 596; 3. Thomas Versace (Aus) 697.2 (595); 6. Sushil Ghaley 695.5 (592); 9. Joydeep Karmakar 592.
25m standard pistol: 1. Gurpreet Singh 567; 2. Samaresh Jung 565; 3. Vijay Kumar 564.
Skeet: 1. Malcolm Allen (Wal) 143 (3) 119; 2. Mairaj Ahmed Khan 143 (2) 120; 3. Arozepal Singh 139 (6) 119; 6. P. P. Singh 139 (0) 119.
Women: 10m air pistol: 1. Shweta Chaudhary 479.7 (380); 2. Annuraj Singh 478.9 (379); 3. Pushpanjali Rana 473.7 (375).