New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) Indian paddlers made a fine start at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships topping their respective groups in Stage I here Sunday.
The men’s team, led by Sharath Kamal, first saw off Australia 3-1 and then blanked South Africa in Group B matches played at the Thyagaraj Stadium.
The women too had it easy in Group C, beating Sri Lanka and Canada with an identical 3-0 margin. They got a walkover after leading 2-0 against Canada, who failed to field a third player.
The second stage of the team championships Monday will see two groups of four teams each. The top two from each pool qualify for the semifinals.
Indian men, drawn in Group F of Stage 2, have for company Scotland, Northern Ireland and Malaysia while group E has Singapore, England, Wales and either Australia or South Africa, whose match is still in progress.
The women have been pooled together with Singapore, Wales and Scotland in Group E. England, Malaysia, Australia and Sri Lanka are the teams in Group F.
The start of the biennial event was not ideal for the Indian men with World No.150 Anthony Amalraj losing the first singles to Australian David Powell, who is ranked 617.
“I got a bit nervous playing my first match at home. The loss will keep me on my toes for the coming matches,” Amalraj told IANS following his 7-11, 8-11, 8-11 defeat.
Kamal, India’s highest ranked player at 69, levelled the tie courtesy an 11-5, 13-11, 11-3 win over World No.861 Kane Townsend.
Reigning national champion Soumyajit Ghosh sealed the tie by winning the third singles against Wade Townsend 11-5, 11-6, 11-7.
Later in the day, India went with the same combination and outplayed South Africa.
Here too, Amalraj seemed to be throwing away his lead against Luke Abrahams before recovering in time for an 11-9, 12-10, 11-5 result. Kamal and Ghosh won their matches comfortably.
The women’s team, which was assured of a win against a depleted Canada, had an easy outing against Sri Lanka in the morning.
The experienced Mouma Das came from behind to beat Ishara Madurangi 13-15, 11-5, 11-3, 11-4.
National champion Shamini Kumaresan got past Nuwani Vithanage 11-7, 14-12, 11-8.
Neha Aggarwal was picked ahead of Madhurika Patkar for the third singles. The Delhi girl had little difficulty in beating Ridhmi Karadanaarachchi 11-4, 11-6, 11-5.