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Commonwealth Games 2018: Sharath Kamal keen on another masterstroke

Australia has a special place in Sharath Kamal’s heart. More than a decade ago, Indian table tennis’ poster boy won two gold medals at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games in what was still early days in his career.

other sports Updated: Apr 02, 2018 08:20 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Commonwealth Games 2018,Gold Coast,Sharath Kamal
Sharath Kamal will be the most prominent medal contender for India in table tennis at the Commonwealth Games 2018.(Getty Images )

The showpiece event returns Down Under and Sharath Kamal would be expected to inspire his younger team-mates – especially in the wake of Soumyajit Ghosh’s unexpected exclusion from the squad over an alleged rape accusation.

World No 71 Kamal would have by his side world No 49 Sathiyan Gnansekaran, Harmeet Desai (No 66) and Anthony Amalraj (No 93). World No 58 Soumyajit was also an experienced hand but his exclusion means that Sanil Shetty (No 72) may get a chance to represent India in the men’s section.

In the women’s section, world No 66 Manika Batra, Mouma Das (No 71), Madhurika Patkar (No 108), Pooja Sahasrabudhe (No 169) and Sutirtha Mukherjee (No 343) will be India’s contenders.

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The 10-member Indian squad is being coached by Italian Massimo Constantini and they have been in training and competing Germany of late.

India’s chances

Indian table tennis side has been seeded second behind England in the team event and it speaks volume about India’s prospects. The absence of traditional table tennis powerhouses like China has meant that India almost always put up a good show.

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However, that was not the case in the 2014 Glasgow edition where Indian paddlers won only one medal – silver in men’s doubles (Kamal and Amalraj). It was a far cry from the three medals (two gold, one bronze) in the 2006 edition and the five medals (one gold, one silver and three bronze) in the 2010 New Delhi edition. Indian paddlers have won 12 CWG medals in all.

However, this time around the table tennis team team is expecting three to four medals from the Gold Coast CWG.

Top performers

In the men’s singles, Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal will be the two players to watch out for. While Sharath Kamal has massive experience on his side, Sathiyan’s recent form has been impressive.

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Sathiyan is only the second Indian player to win two ITTF singles event. In his maiden CWG, the 25-year-old will have three higher-ranked players to deal with Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri (22), Singapore’s Gao Ning (33) and England’s Paul Drinkhall (46).

In the doubles section, if Sanil Shetty is included then he can combine well with Amalraj or Sharath Kamal. Their left-right combine has the potential to upset other big names.

In the women’s section, Manika Batra has shown significant progress in the last couple of years. She and Mouma Das would be expected to bring home a medal in the women’s doubles section.

Apart from that, India have the potential to get a medal in the team event too.

First Published: Apr 01, 2018 09:18 IST