New Delhi, July 19 : Indian paddlers start favourites yet again to make another clean sweep of all the 10 gold medals on offer when they commence their campaign in the South Asian Junior Table Tennis Championships that will begin at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here from Saturday..
In the last edition held at Shillong, the Indians not only won the gold in team and individual events of all the four sectionsâEuro"Cadet
Boys, Junior Boys, Cadet Girls and Junior GirlsâEuro"but also claimed four silvers in the singles events to make it a India-centric event.

The verdict this time will be no different because that is the maximum that the Indians can aim for in a format that tries to
accommodate the interests of the visiting teams as well.

Nevertheless, there is so much to gain from the championships as it provides the gateway to the Junior Asian Championships.

Indian paddlers have been consistently walking into the Asian Juniors as the top team from the region, leaving the second position to other five teams.

Last year, it was Sri Lanka who qualified in all but one section and they will want to make amends. Nepal managed to qualify in the Junior Boys section while Sri Lanka grabbed spots in other three sections as the second-best team.

For the likes of Abhishek Yadav and Utkarsh, the winners of Junior Boys and Cadet Boys singles crowns, along with Sudhanshu Grover, Birdie Boro and Lalrin Puia, this will be the second appearance in succession while Rohit Rajsekhar and Anirban Ghosh are the new faces.

Similarly, Suthirtha Mukherjee, who has grown in stature, and Reeth Rishya SAF championships are not new.

But for the likes of Manika Batra, who was pulled out last year to compete in the senior section, Ayhika Mukerjee, R. Harshavardhani, Sagarika Mukherjee and up-and-coming Sreeja Akula, the meet provides a bigger platform.

Suthirtha gets her opportunity to win the title in Junior Girls section but Manika will be breathing down her neck.

Suthirtha, who is ranked 35 in the world, has not only beaten Manika, ranked 27, at the Slovak Open recently, but the West Bengal girl went on to annex the Polish title in May.

As for the boys section, each one of them knows the other like the back of his palm. All of them are capable of beating one another on a given day, but both Abhishek and Utkarsh have a lot at stake to defend their crowns.

With six teams in fray, the Cadet Boys and Junior Boys teams will be played in two stages while the girls in both sections will play in a league format.

In the Cadet Boys section, group A is comprised of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and group B features Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal.

In the Junior Boys section, India, Pakistan and Bhutan have been put together in group A, while Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh form group B.

Ganeshan Neelakant Iyer will be the competition manager for the event while A.S. Kler is the referee of the championships. Stag 1000 DX table and Nittaku ball (orange) will be used for the championships.

The synthetic flooring used will be red in colour.

The events start at 10 am with the opening ceremony on Saturday is slated for 4.30 p.m.

(Posted on 19 July 2013, 1675574002 3O236O47O240)