Indian paddler Manika Batra was on Wednesday (September 17) left out of the India squad for the Asian Championships beginning September 28 in Doha after she did not attend the mandatory national camp in Sonepat. In the absence of the world number 56th player, 97th-ranked Sutirtha Mukherjee will lead the women’s team. The other members are Ayhika Mukherjee (ranked 131) and Archana Kamath (132).
Veteran Sharath Kamal (ranked 33) will spearhead the men’s challenge in the company of G Sathiyan (38), Harmeet Desai (72), Manav Thakkar (134) and Sanil Shetty (247). Powerhouse China is not taking part in the event, raising medal hopes in the men's team event. Singles and doubles competitions will also be conducted.
The Table Tennis Federation of India had made it clear that any player not attending the camp will not be considered for selection. The team was picked on Wednesday and was subsequently published on TTFI website.
The federation had made attendance in camps compulsory following the Tokyo Olympics. Manika had informed the federation that she would like to continue training with her personal coach in Pune.
The Khel Ratna awardee has also made match fixing allegations against national coach Soumydeep Roy for asking her to throw a match during the Olympic qualifiers. TTFI has formed an inquiry panel to probe the allegations.
Sathiyan, Desai and Sutirtha joined the national camp late due to different reasons. Sathiyan was playing in Poland, Harmeet was in Germany while Sutirtha had fever.
Earlier this month, Manika had made a big allegation against her national coach Soumyadeep Roy, claiming that he asked her to throw a match during the Olympic qualifiers in March and that was the main reason she refused his help in the singles competition of the Tokyo Games.
Responding to the Table Tennis Federation of India’s (TTFI) show cause notice, Manika strongly denied that she brought disrepute to the game by refusing Roy’s help. According to TTFI sources, the world number 56 stated she would not have been able to focus on her match if someone who asked her to indulge in match-fixing months earlier was sitting by her side.
“Besides the need to avoid disturbance due to his last-minute intervention, there was an additional and much more serious reason behind my preference to play without the national coach,” the Khel Ratna awardee alleged in her response to TTFI secretary Arun Banerjee.
“The national coach had pressurised me during the qualification tournament in Doha in March 2021 to concede my match to his student to enable her to qualify for Olympics – in short – to indulge in match-fixing," she said.
Men’s team: Manav Thakkar, Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan, Harmeet Desai, Sanil Shetty.
Men’s doubles: Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan; Manav Thakkar and Harmeet Desai.
Women’s team: Sutirtha Mukherjee, Sreeja Akula, Ayhika Mukherjee, Archana Kamath.
Women’s doubles: Archana Kamath and Sreeja Akula; Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee.
Mixed doubles: Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath; Harmeet Desai and Sreeja Akula.
(with ANI inputs)