Time for Indian paddlers to shine in front of home crowd
New Delhi: A great opportunity awaits for a group of young and experienced Indian paddlers to sizzle in front of the home crowd and bag a rich medal haul in the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships that gets underway here on Sunday.
A formidable challenge for the hosts in this edition of the event would come from Singapore, who has much higher ranked players in their squad.
But if the Indian paddlers get favourable draws, it could well turn out to be a remarkable championship for them.
Singapore have completely dominated the last two editions of the championship --2007 and 2009--finishing first in all the categories except for men`s doubles event.
However, the field has lost its sheen to some extent because of the absence of big players like two-time defending champion Gao Ning of Singapore and English suo of Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall, who have opted out due to club commitments.
Australia, Canada and Scotland will also be fielding a relatively young side for the championship.
Leading the Indian challenge would be country`s most experienced campaigner Achantha Sharath Kamal, who is also the highest ranked player for the hosts.
Sharath and his doubles partner, Subhajit Saha, would be determined to defend their title which they won in Glasgow last time around.
While first timers such as reigning national champion Soumyajit Ghosh, Harmeet Desai and G Sathiyan would be hoping to make a mark in front of local fans at the Thyagaraj Stadium.
Though the level of competition in this event is no match to the international arena, a high-quality campaign here will certainly boost paddlers` confidence going into the World Championships which starts from May 13 in Paris.
The Indian men`s team had been given the second billing behind Singapore while their female counterparts are placed third.
The women`s squad will be spearheaded by national title holder K Shamini.
The home fans would be hoping for a large hearted effort from the women contingent comprising seasoned Mouma Das, Madhurika Patkar and Neha Aggarwal besides Shamini.
Prior to this championship, the four paddlers participated in a 19-day training camp in China where they rubbed shoulders against top class players.
India in the last edition of the event had won seven medals - one gold, two silver and four bronze, and would be keen to prove their mettle once again.
Men: Achantha Sharath Kamal, Anthony Amalraj, Soumyajit Ghosh, Sanil Shetty, Harmeet Desai, Soumyadeep Roy, G Sathiyan, Subhajit Saha, Jubin Kumar, Aman Balgu, Nitin Vasanth Phillips, Sourav Saha.
Women: K Shamini, Mouma Das, Madhurika Patkar, Neha Aggarwal, Ankita Das, Manika Batra, Kritiwika Roy, Pooja Sahasrabudhe, Divya Deshpande, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Nikhat Banu, Moushami Paul.