Indian paddlers depart for Asian Championships

New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) A 10-member Indian squad, comprising five men and women each, left for Thailand on Friday to participate in the Asian Table Tennis Championships to be held at Pattaya from September 26 to October 3.

The men’s team will be led by veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal. Other members of the team are national champion Soumyajit Ghosh, Harmeet Desai, Sanil Shetty and G. Sathiyan while Mouma Das, Ankita Das, Pooja Sahasrabudhe, K. Shamini and Manika Batra form the women’s team. Bhawani Mukherjee and Arup Basak are the two coaches accompanying the squad.

Prior to their departure, all team members were part of a 21-day camp at Patiala, to prepare for the continental championships as, for the first time, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has accorded it a proper qualification-event status for the World Championships to be held in Malaysia in February 2016.

“This will be my first competitive event since I got injured during the World Championships in China early this year. I had been working out physically without indulging in hard core practice. At the camp, I felt the flow was nice and coming good. I hope I return to my original form,” said Sharath, the highest ranked Indian at No.52.

Sharath had held the career-best world ranking of 27 when he pulled out of the pre-quarterfinals at the Shuzu world meet due to a side strain in April this year.

The coaches and team members, too, felt happy to see the return of the most experienced player to the squad.

“His presence will add an aura to the side and hopefully the Indians will perform well,” said the coaches.

The Indians had entered the quarter-finals of all the three team events at Macau in the previous edition. This time they will compete in both team and individual events.

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