Even before the first ball is tossed in the South Asian junior table tennis championship at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here, India’s title-sweep over the next three days is a foregone conclusion.
Given the lack of talent in the region, ‘Big Brother’ India hardly faces any worthwhile challenge from the likes of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Like in Siliguri last year, India is set to win all four team and individual titles In fact, in the previous edition, India also bagged four individual silver medals.
The virtual monopoly of the Indians need not enhance their stature in any way but surely paves the way for a place in the Asian Junior championship. The only point of interest is which team finishes second and joins India in the continental championships.
In the boys section, defending champion Abhishek Yadav and Sudhanshu Grover have new teammates in Rohit Rajsekhar and last year’s cadet champion Utkarsh Gupta. The cadet boys team has Anirban Ghosh, Birdie Boro and Lalrin Puia.
Among the girls, Manika Batra, Polish Open winner Sutirtha Mukherjee, Reeth Tennison and Ayhika Mukherjee hold the promise of a keenly contested title-race in the individual section. For the cadet girls’ title, Sagarika Mukherjee appears the favourite.
The team championship will be decided on Sunday.
The groups (team championship):
Boys: Group ‘A’: India, Pakistan and Bhutan; Group ‘B’: Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Girls: Group One: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Cadet boys: Group ‘A’: India, Bangladesh and Pakistan; Group ‘B’: Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal.
Girls: Group One: India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.