Young table tennis sensation Soumyajit Ghosh and seasoned Poulomi Ghatak start favourite in the men’s and women’s competition respectively of the 74th National table tennis championship starting here on Monday.

Soumyajit, who was the only Indian to qualify in the men’s competition at the London Olympics, is ranked No. 1 going into this tournament and has solid performances behind him at the Fajr Cup in Iran last month.

He would definitely aim to get his maiden senior National title.

The 19-year-old from Siliguri would face tough competition from the likes of veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal, who was shocked in the final last year and defending champion A. Amalraj.

Harmeet Desai, who defeated Soumyajit at Fajr Cup, Sanil Shetty and Soumyadep Roy are the other players to watch out for in the six-day competition at the Balbir Singh Juneja Indoor Stadium.

Meanwhile, in the women’s category, seven-time National champion Poulomi Ghatak would look to defend her title that she won after beating K. Shamini in a close encounter.

The likes of young Ankita Das — the only Indian woman to participate in the London Olympics — and Madhurika Patkar would pose a resolute challenge for the experienced Poulomi and Shamini.

This year, 34 men’s teams and 30 women’s squads have confirmed their entries. The teams have been divided into eight groups with PSPB men and Maharashtra ‘A’ women getting the top rank in the team event, which is followed by the individual championships.

The men’s singles champion will receive Rs. 2,30,000 while the winner in women’s category will carry home Rs. 1,45,000 from a total prize purse of Rs. 9,58,800.

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