New Delhi: Ace paddler Sharath Kamal will lead the 10-member Indian contingent including five women in the World Table Tennis championships to be held in Tokyo from April 28 to May 5. Members of the men's team include Soumyajit Ghosh, Harmeet Desai, Anthony Amalraj and Sanil Shetty besides world no. 54 Sharath. Delhi's Manika Batra and Pooja Sahasrabudhe of Mumbai have made it to the senior national women's squad for the first time.
Other members of the squad are K Shamini, Ankita Das and Madhurika Patkar. The selection committee, comprising foreign coach Peter Engel, national coaches Bhawani Mukherji, Kamlesh Mehta, Indu Puri and government observer Manjit Dua met here on Sunday, along with TTFI chairman P C Chaturvedi and convener Dhanraj Choudhary, to decide on the team.
The men's team will aim to better the 27th place it achieved in the previous edition at Dortmund in 2012. India, assured of a place in the second division of the championship, could well get a berth in the 24-nation Championship Division when the present world ranking is considered to confirm four countries at the time of the draw.
Presently, India are ranked 21st in both sections. The world ranking of a country is based on the individual rankings of its top-three players. India's best performance in the men's world championship was recorded in Gothenburg where it finished 12th in 1985. "What makes me confident of the men's team is the way the players have improved their world rankings in recent times. I am particularly impressed with the way Harmeet Desai has performed (he jumped to 137 from 285 within a few weeks).
Harmeet was too good at the Qatar Open," said Choudhary, secretary-general of the Table Tennis Federation of India. "We have a very young women's team. Manika and Pooja have been doing well in the junior circuit for India. It wil be an excellent exposure for them ahead of the Commonwealth Games."
Meanwhile, all the team members, barring Sharath Kamal, will assemble at Patiala for the final preparatory camp beginning April 10. With the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games also a few months away, the two coaches expect a good performance from the paddlers.
"A good display at Tokyo will help the team do well at Glasgow," said Engel. He also said that India stood a very good chance at Glasgow, despite the presence of formidable Singapore and England. Earlier, the TTFI's Annual General Body Meeting re-confirmed the allotment of this season's National championships to Puducherry (senior), Alleppey (youth and junior) while Andhra Pradesh (venue to be decided) the sub-junior and cadet events.
The season-opener, Institutional championships, has been allotted to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) which will host the event in August. The TTFI's disciplinary committee also discussed the overage issue following the debarment of several players during the sub-junior and cadet championships at Ajmer. The committee has been authorised to form guidelines and circulate to all states concerned.