LUCKNOW: January 22: When you literally have the who’s who of country’s top players in your ranks, you not only put your opposition down, mentally, but also win half the battle even before it starts. That is precisely the position every team wants to be in any national competition like the 73rd Senior National and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships which get underway at the SAI sub-centre here from Monday.
But, unfortunately, when the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) is in fray, the other teams can only dream about such a situation and leave things at that or, at best, sit and pray for the collective failure of A. Sarath Kamal, Soumyajit Ghosh and Amal Raj in men’s section and Poulami Ghatak, Mouma Das and K. Shamini in the women’s section who form PSPB teams.
That could be like asking for the moon. Yet, there are teams like Maharashtra A and B, the Railways, the Airport Authority of India, the two Bengals—West and North—and Tamil Nadu who, on their day, can be quite handful as they have the wherewithal to give their opposition a good fight, if not become a real thorn in the flesh.
West Bengal, as compared to North Bengal, is a top-notch team and so is Maharashtra A. Tamil Nadu, with G. Sathyan and Sateeswaran, not part of the team look to be a mismatch in the championships. But their girls are capable of springing a surprise or two. Still, looking at the strength of PSPB, one can safely say that all the other teams are only playing for the crumbs when it comes to team championships. That, in a nutshell, should reassure PSPB the double titles, barring a major hiccup.
What the players should, however, be wary of is the venue which has been readied for the event with great efforts coming from both the Sports Authority of India as well the Uttar Pradesh Table Tennis Association. In just about five months, they have got the venue readied for the meet and it is looking in prime condition. Despite the distance—about 15kms away from the city—the organisers have made excellent arrangements with each team having been provided a dedicated 10-seater to travel to the venue with standby vehicles at hand for any contingency.
With 34 teams having confirmed participation—all teams have arrived and registered—the number of players making it to the championships has grown considerably. Teams have been divided into eight groups based on the position they obtained in the last nationals at Kolkata and they will play the round-robin league to determine which of the top two teams in each group make it to the knock-out round.
The first three days will see the teams vying with one another while the individual events will begin on the fourth day evening after the team championships finals.