The Commonwealth table tennis championships, which begin at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur on Wednesday, gives the India paddlers a chance to redeem themselves after their none-too-impressive campaign at the World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia.
In the World Championships, most of the Indians found the going tough against their much higher-ranked opponents and barring Sharath Kamal, all of them failed to go beyond the first round in the main draw.
India, who won the last edition of the Commonwealth event in Kuala Lumpur in 2004, would be looking to repeat the feat, but Sharath believes it will take a lot of hard work and determination.
With teams like Singapore, Australia and Nigeria in the fray, the Indian paddler believes that the team will face tough competition.
“Singapore is always dangerous and then there are teams like Australia and Nigeria, which can pose a serious challenge,” Sharath said on the eve of the Championships.
When asked if the Indian paddlers’s poor show in Zagreb would have any bearing here, Sharath responded in the negative. “No. I think we have done pretty well in the World Championships and moreover, this is a different tournament,” he said.
Sharath felt the 15-day camp the paddlers attended in Germany prior to the World Championships would stand them in good stead and help them here.
“The conditions were very nice and it brought a lot of variety to our game,” he said.
Placed in Group B, India start their campaign against Scotland on Wednesday while Singapore take on Pakistan in Group A of the women’s event.
In all, 98 matches will be played in the team event.
“Though our opponents in the first round are not as strong as Nigeria or Singapore, we can’t take them lightly,” Sharath warned.
Teams left high and dry
Nigeria and Maldives were yet to reach Jaipur late Tuesday as protests over the reservation issue left them stranded in the Behroad village on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. “They were scheduled to reach here on Tuesday afternoon… If needed, we will change the schedule of their matches,” said organising secretary Dhanraj Chowdhury.