India, as expected, made a grand start to their campaign in team championships and topped their groups to qualify for the Super Eight stage in both sections of the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here today.
The domination of India was such that they lost just two games – one by Sharath Kamal against Singapore’s and another by Ayhika Mukherjee against Chamathsara. But for this minor mishap the Indians sailed through.
The team management kept faith in the threesome of Sharath, G Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai who did their job pretty much well to first beat Scotland 3-0 and then follow it up with a similar verdict against Singapore.
In women event, however, the coaches tried out the bench strength with different combinations in the two group matches. Manika Batra and Ayhika Mukherjee, who played against Sri Lanka posting a 3-0 triumph in the company of Archana Kamath, were rested for the match against South Africa. Instead, Madurika Patkar and Sutirtha Mukherjee were tried out with Archana. They didn’t disappoint as they posted yet another 3-0 victory over South Africa.
The chasm in the competing teams here could be seen and what Sharath said on the eve of the championships could come true as India looked well on course for a golden sweep in team and individual events.
No doubt, the Singaporeans have brought a young women team while England, just with experienced Samuel Walker, is the team to beat as they are likely to meet Indian men in the knockout stage.
If one were to look for an upset on the opening day, it came about in the women section when Malaysia downed Australia, the group C topper.
In a latest development, Uganda team and Guyana members have got their respective government’s nod and they would be sending them for participation in the individual events. According to a communication to TTFI from the two federations, Uganda will be sending five members while three from Guyana, who will compete in singles and doubles events which get underway from July 19 after the team finals.
Team championship: Preliminary stage:
Women: Group A: Singapore bt Scotland 3-0; Singapore bt Wales 3-0; Wales bt Scotland 3-0.
Group B: India bt Sri Lanka 3-0 (Manika Batra bt Bimandi Bandara 11-5, 11-4, 11-5; Archana Kamath bt Ishara Madurangi 11-5, 11-5, 12-10; Ayhika Mukherjee bt Chamathsara Fernando 11-3, 11-3, 8-11, 11-4); India bt South Africa 3-0 (Archana Kamath bt Danisha Patel 11-6, 11-2, 11-2; Madhurika Patkar bt Palesa Mtshoelibe 11-2, 11-5, 11-3; Sutirtha Mukherjee bt Simeen Mookrey 11-1, 11-4, 11-4); Sri Lanka bt South Africa 3-0.
Group C: Australia bt Cyprus 3-0; Malaysia bt Australia 3-1; Malaysia bt Cyprus 3-0.
Group D: Nigeria bt Bangladesh 3-0; England bt Nigeria 3-1; England bt Bangladesh 3-0.
Men: Group A: England bt Cyprus 3-0; England bt Sri Lanka 3-0;
Group B: India bt Scotland 3-0 (G Sathiyan bt Niall Cameron 11-4, 11-7, 11-8; A Sharath Kamal bt Colin Dalgleish 11-2, 11-6, 11-9; Harmeet Desai bt Dylan Curry 11-2, 11-6, 11-1); India bt Singapore 3-0 (G Sathiyan bt Yu En Koen Pang 11-7, 11-9, 11-8; A Sharath Kamal bt Zheyu Clarence Chew 8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9; Harmeet Desai bt Shao Han Josh 11-4, 11-7, 11-6).
Group C: Nigeria bt Bangladesh 3-0; Malaysia bt Nigeria 3-2.
Group D: Australia bt Wales 3-0; Australia bt South Africa 3-0.
Qualifiers for Super Eights:
Women: Group A: Singapore, Wales; Group B: India, Sri Lanka; Group C: Australia, Malaysia; Group D: England, Nigeria.
Source: Table Tennis Federation of India