New Delhi, Apr 26 UNI | 3 months ago

A ten-member Indian table tennis teams will fly later today to take part in the Tokyo World Championships to be held between April 28 and May 5.

After having spent at an "intensive" camp for a fortnight at NIS, Patiala, the men's team comprises A Sharath Kamal, Anthony Amalraj, Soumyajit Ghosh, Harmeet Desai and national champion Sanil Shetty, while K. Shamini, Madhurika Patkar, Manika Batra, Pooja Sahasrabudhe and national champion Ankita Das will form the women's squad.

They will be accompanied by foreign coach Peter Engel and national coach Bhawani Mukherjee.

The team, minus Sharath Kamal, will leave for Japan this evening from here while the Indian spearhead will join the squad at Tokyo from Germany.

Talking on the preparations for the worlds, the German coach said that the teams have a "very good" chance of putting up a better show this time around. "Both teams had finished at 27 in the last worlds (in 2012) in Germany and I am sure they will do still better at Tokyo," said Engel, now a resident of Barcelona in Spain.

The coach spoke highly of the "young team" with the experienced Sharath Kamal taking charge. "I am really impressed with the way the boys, particularly Soumyajit Ghosh and Amalraj, have been preparing at the camp. Even Harmeet and Sanil have been in great form. I want them to translate this form into winning matches at the Japanese capital. I have watched Sharath in recent times and, believe me, he is in a great shape," added Engel.

As for the girls, he said there was a great "team spirit" among them, adding he had been working on their better movements on the court and at the table. "Our training, apart from covering the technical and tactical aspects, also included about several sessions on better movements. I see vast improvements and they will do them a world of good at the championships," he said.

Praising on the physical fitness, Engel said that Madhurika had shed five kilos and it would help her perform better. "Physical and mental fitness are the two aspects we put our emphasis on and they have yielded results. You will see a different Shamini and a leaner Madhurika from now on. We have two first-timers too in Madhurika and Manika for the world meet. I am sure they will also do very well."

Combing back to the chances at Tokyo, both Engel and Bhawani Mukherjee said that India had a very good chance. The men's team is in a far easier group than the women's who have a big hurdle in Turkey.

The men's team in Group F is pitted against Italy, Iran, Argentina, Australia and Paraguay while the women's squad, in group G, has Italy, Turkey, Nigeria, Portugal and Bulgaria-all part of the second division teams with India taking top perch in both sections.

The team that leads the group will automatically qualify for the quarter-finals and get byes into the draw of 16. Two other teams, making the cut from each group, will play the second stage which is the pre-quarterfinals.

The men's squad will open their campaign against Argentina on April 28 in the morning while the women will have wait till the evening for their opening match against Nigeria.

(Posted on 27-04-2014)