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India certain of making quarters

Indian shuttlers would be high in confidence after beating teams like Hong Kong and Singapore last month.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2006 20:07 IST

The Indian table tennis camp sounded confident and content. The battlelines have been drawn and the players are ready for the their campaign to clear the preliminary league matches in their respective groups.

For the men’s, it should be a pretty easy group, except for Australia. “It’s a pretty OK group and we should be reaching the quarterfinals without much trouble,” said Dhanraj Chouhan, India team’s manager, who was present at the draw.

Achanta Sharath Kamal, the gold medal hope at the Commonwealth Games, too seemed satisfied. India, seeded fourth, in the men’s section will open their campaign against a not-too famous country, Kiribati on Thursday. “For us it should be pretty good draw because we won’t be playing Singapore till the semifinals,” said Kamal. “But I am confident that this time we should be winning more medals,” said Kamal. But their most important game will be against hosts Australia on March 18.

The women’s team, seeded third, opens its campaign against Fiji on Thursday. But their most important match will be against Malaysia on March 17. However, the only concern for the Indian team management was that the bronze medal would be decided via a play-off match. Groups Men’s D: India, Australia, Northern Ireland, Ghana, Kiribati, St Vincent. Women’s C: India, Malaysia, Wales, Mauritius, Fiji.

Vimal banks on Indonesian stint FRESH FROM their stint in Indonesia, Indian shuttlers are confident of winning team medals in the 18th Commonwealth Games starting here on Thursday.

National Coach Vimal Kumar said their practice sessions against some of the top Indonesians, a major powerhouse in the game, had sharpened them enough to win medals at the quadrennial event.

Indian shuttlers would also be high in confidence after beating teams like Hong Kong and Singapore last month on way to the Thomas Cup finals.

“A bronze medal in the men’s team event will be a good achievement. They have the ability to do well here, while the women have a 50-50 chance,” he said.

About their 11-day training in Indonesia, he said “we were keen for action on court to sharpen the players up, and in that, the tour was fruitful.

“It was a very good experience to train at their National Badminton Centre in Chipayung. They don’t allow teams from other countries to train with their players. But this time they allowed us. All their top players, including Taufik Hidayat, were there. We could train with them as they prepared for the Thomas Cup finals,” said Vimal.

In the open events, India are banking on National champion Anup Sridhar and Chetan Anand, the top ranked Indian shuttler in world. The coach said the thrust was more on on-court drills in Indonesia and they continued it here by practising against the Scottish players and their compatriots.

India is placed in Group D and will take on Trinidad & Tobago in the opener on Thursday and then Seychelles the next day. Their last group match is against England on March 18.

“We should win the first two matches. The third match will be crucial, for it will decide the group toppers, who will get to play the runners-up in Group C in the quarterfinals,” he said.

First Published: Mar 16, 2006 20:07 IST