New Delhi: India’s junior paddlers, brimming with confidence after a month-long stint at the Peter Karlsson Academy in Sweden, embark on Mission Achievable when they land later on Thursday night at Bahrain for the Volkswagen 2011 World Junior Table Tennis Championships to be held at Manama between November 13 and 20.
Soumyajit Ghosh, ranked 25 in the world, will have Harmeet Desai (WR 26), G.Sathiyan (WR 40) and Sourav Saha (WR 111) for company to accomplish a task that the team is capable of, particularly after their showing in the Asian Juniors in New Delhi, where the field saw world-beaters from China, Japan and Taipei, earlier this year.
Subsequently, at the Indian Open in Dehra Dun the boys did exceedingly well to claim team titles in the Junior and Cadet sections. Naturally, the girls too joined the party despite Manika Batra not being in the best of her form. However, the training stint in Sweden seems to have done a world of good them before the world championships.
Coach Kamlesh Mehta, speaking from Sweden, exuded confidence of a good performance by the players. “All are in good shape and frame of mind. They know the field at Bahrain well and are prepared to meet the challenge. The training and some competitions have helped them hone their skills further. I am sure they will put their best foot forward. I expect the boys to finish on the podium,” he said on the eve of the team’s departure to Manama.
Incidentally, Ghosh, Harmeet and Sathiyan have done very through the year well in the Global Junior circuits. In the ITTF Global Junior Circuit Boys Points standings Ghosh is ranked fourth and Harmeet eighth. This is the first time both the boys and girls teams have qualified for the world junior team championships. Last year, only the boys’ team had qualified.
Kamlesh also said the boys’ team is ranked fifth in the world while the girls are 12th. “For the boys it’s a great opportunity and being ranked fifth means they are that much closer to the podium as well as have some extra responsibility. They do realise that and it will help them at Bahrain,” added the coach.
India had won a mixed bronze in the last world championships and the likes of Batra, who is ranked 37 in the world, along with Mallika Bhandarkar (WR 118), Ankita Das (WR 87) and Reeth Rishya (WR 160) can give their opponents some anxious moments on their day. They at least have good chance of climbing the world ranking ladder.
“I am sure the boys will come with a medal this time but it could be a little difficult for the girls,” said TTFI secretary-general Dhanraj Choudhary. He will be in Bahrain in the capacity of ATTU treasurer and will be accompanied by TTFI treasurer V K Bawa, chief coach Bhavani Mukerjee, and umpires Rokkam Krishnakumar and Vinay Baiswade.