India confident of good show at Commonwealth TT

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) India can hope for a decent medal haul at 19th Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships beginning at the Thyagaraj Stadium here Sunday.

India will be represented by five men and four women paddlers in the Championships comprising team, individual, doubles and mixed doubles events.

Sharath Kamal, the highest-ranked Indian at 70, will lead the men’s line-up in the company of current national champion Soumyajit Ghosh, Anthony Amalraj, Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty while Shamini Kumaresan, Mouma Das, Madhurika Patkar and Neha Aggarwal form the women’s team.

The male paddlers, who have had an extended stint at Falkenburg Club training centre in Sweden, as well female players who went to Zhengding National Table Tennis Training base in China, have returned well prepared for the prestigious home event.

Eight-time national champion and current coach, Kamlesh Mehta, was confident the men’s team keeping the Indian tricolor flying high. “The boys have had a very good stint in Sweden with sparring partners of different hues. That should stand them in good stead in the Commonwealth Championships,” said Mehta.

Mehta warned that they should be wary of Singapore even though they are without their number one player Gao Ning, who won the singles title in the last two editions of the competition.

“Singapore has very good players in Zhan Jian, ranked 25 in the world, and Li Hu (ranked 55), who will be tough opponents.

“Unfortunately, none of our players had faced them before. That could be a disadvantage,” he said.

But on the distaff side, national coach Bhawani Mukherjee is pinning hopes on stalwarts Shamini and Mouma with able support coming from local girl Neha.

Here again, they will have to watch out for Singapore, the current world champions, and England. Singapore is spearheaded by world no. 4 Feng Tianwei, while England will hope Joanna Parker, ranked 135, to get the team on the podium.

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