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PSPB start as team favourites

other Updated: Jan 16, 2011 22:07 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

Let's put it this way: the last time there was a similar chatter of table tennis balls at the Netaji Indoor Stadium ahead of a senior national championship, the game was played over 21 points, Kamlesh Mehta was active on the circuit and social networking didn't need a mouse.

Plumpish, balding and helping volunteers put up hoardings around the red synthetic matted floor on Sunday, Arup Basak was then crowned India champion beating S Raman.

That was 17 Januarys ago, the competition having spilled over from 1993.

The women's title went to Mantu Ghosh who downed Kanchan Dhawan. Basak and Ghosh are now officials at West Bengal and North Bengal associations. Dhawan is Basak's wife and the mother of their 10-year-old daughter who is taking baby steps in table tennis at Basak's training centre in central Kolkata.

Like most of the past two decades, top seeds Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) begin the team championships, which start on Monday, as favourites to keep their crowns.

So even though Poulomi Ghatak won't be around to defend her double crown because of knee surgery, the PSPB quintet of A Shamini, Mouma Das, Divya Deshpande, Pooja Sahasrabudhe and Madhurika Patkar are expected to win their 12th straight Jayalakshmi Cup.

Ditto the team of Achanta Sharath Kamal, also the reigning singles champion, Soumyadeep Roy, Anthony Amalraj, Sourav Chakraborty and Subhajit Saha in the Barna-Bellack Cup for the men's team competition.