There is feverish hope surrounding the men's and women's paddlers in the CWG table tennis event which begins at the Yamuna Sports Complex here on Monday.
Though India would surely be among the medals, nothing is going to stop Singapore from dominating the medals tally.
The Singapore men's team has Gao Ning, World No. 17, 30-year-old Cai Xiaoli, Yang Zi, upcoming young stars Ma Liang and Pang Xue Ji. The first four have had their initiation in China while Ji is a local talent.
Liang won the Indian Open last year while the 16-year-old Ji is a formidable paddler, not afraid of reputations and if his performance in the 2009 Indian Open is any indication, India cannot afford to take the teenager lightly.
Xiaoli, too, has been playing rather well though late in his career, reaching the semifinals of the Indian Open last year and the way he troubled Gao Ning during practice sessions here during the weekend, he could be a real threat.
Zi, ranked 21st in the world in 2008, is struggling to find form. For Sharath & Co., he is a tactically dangerous player.
India has the talent
It is not that the Indian think-tank is not aware of this, but it feels it has the capacity to take on Singapore, if at all the two clash in the final. For the defending champion, its immediate concern is not Singapore but reaching the second stage as No. 1, which it would do without much fuss.
“The draw has been easy in the first stage. If we finish first in our group, we will get a bye to the quarterfinals. We are very confident and are in good spirits,” said Sharath Kamal, India's No.1 paddler ahead of his training on Sunday.
The Indian women's side will have a tough match in the first stage as it has New Zealand in it group. The four players in the Kiwi team are all Chinese and quite of them can be a handful.
The Singapore women's side, which won the World team championship in Moscow early this year, defeating powerhouse China in the final, is expected to bag the gold medal. It has five players in the top 25: Feng Tianwei is World No. 2, Wang Yuegu (No. 6), Sun Beibei (No. 17), Yu Mengyu (22) and Li Jiawei (24).
For the Indian men's team though, the task appears formidable.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games 2010