‘World taking notice of Indian players’

‘World taking notice of Indian players’

CONFIDENT: Veteran Sharath Kamal Achanta felt Indian players will no longer be the underdogs in the third edition of the Ultimate Table Tennis. AFP

Indian table tennis is on a high after winning all the seven gold medals at the recently-concluded 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships in Cuttack.

Indian paddlers had a historic outing at 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games too. Seasoned Sharath Kamal feels the world is taking note of India’s growing stature in the sport.

Ahead of the third edition of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), which kicks off on Thursday, Sharath predicted Indian paddlers to be the favourites. “The first season especially made Indian players believe they can beat the superior foreign players. G. Sathiyan and Manika Batra are the best examples. In season 2, an 18-year-old Manav Thakkar stunned Kristian Karlson.

“This, season more than the foreign players, we are the favourites to beat them. We are not dark horses anymore. So the pressure is on us,” Sharath laughed.

The third edition, however, is a little low on foreign flavour. The women’s section has World No 8 Cheng I-Ching of Chinese Taipei and World No. 12 Doo Hoi Kem of Hong Kong but in the men’ the highest-ranked is G Sathiyan at 24, followed by Chuang Chih-Yuan of Chinese Taipei (ranked 28) and Sharath (ranked 32).

Sharath, however, viewed it differently. “They are not top 20 players but they are also good at world level. The current world ranking system is a little biased to certain players.

For example, Benedict Duda is way higher than his ranking of 53. Because he is ranked no 6 or 7 in Germany, he doesn’t get to play many tournaments. So the world ranking here doesn’t speak of their depth of standard.”

The nine-time national champion said Indian paddlers’ achievements are being acknowledged at the world level. “The teams are putting us on a very high level in world competition. Olympic silver medallist Kim Taek-Soo from South Korea, he came after the Asian games and said Indian team has become very strong now.

“Chinese coaches also lined up and clapped for us even though we didn’t beat them in practice match. But we put up a strong fight. Everyone is watching the growth of Indian Table Tennis and I am really happy we have comes so far.”

Dabang to meet Puneri

The third edition will open with defending champions Dabang Delhi clashing with Puneri Paltan.

The six teams in the fray will battle it out over the next three weeks for the cash purse of Rs two crore, with the winners taking home Rs 75 lakh.

League stage: 25th July to 11th August

Semifinals: August 9 and 10

Final: 11th of August

Venue: Thyagraj Stadium, New Delhi

Prize Money: Total  Rs 2 crore (winners: Rs 75 lakh, runners-up: Rs 50 Lakh, losing semifinalists: Rs 25 lakh, other individual award winners (Total Purse): Rs 25lakh.

Squads: Dabang Delhi TTC: Sathiyan G (India), Bernadette Szocs (Romania), Jon Persson (Sweden), Parth Virmani (India), Naina (India), Krittwika Sinha Roy (India).

Puneri Paltan Table Tennis: Chuang Chih-Yuan (Chinese Taipei), Harmeet Desai (India), Ayhika Mukherjee (India), Selena Selvakumar (India), Ronit Bhanja (India), Sabine Winter (Germany).

Chennai Lions: Sharath Kamal (India), Petrissa Solja (Germany), Tiago Apolonia (Portugal), Madhurika Patkar (India), Yashini Sivasankar (India), Anirban Ghosh (India).

RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata: Manika Batra (India), Benedikt Duda (Germany), Matilda Ekholm (Sweden), Manush Shah (India), Prapti Sen (India), Sanil Shetty (India).

U Mumba TT: Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong), Manav Thakkar (India), Sutirtha Mukherjee (India), Kirill Gerassimenko (Kazakhstan), Jeet Chandra (India), Moumita Dutta (India).

Goa Challengers- Cheng I-Ching (Chinese Taipei), Archana Kamath (India), Amalraj Anthony (India), Siddhesh Pande (India), Shruti Amrute (India), Alvaro Robles (Spain).