CHENNAI: Life has a funny way of springing surprises. Last week, A Sharath Kamal had to pull out of the World Championships in China due to a hamstring tear.
On Monday, however, when the new world rankings were released, India’s top paddler found his name next to an unfamiliar yet meaningful digit.
Back in 2010, Sharath became the only Indian to break into the top 40. He has raised the bar once again, thus, it’s fitting that his ranking and age are on the same page — 32!
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Even though I have been wanting to break into top 30 for a long time, this is my closest stab at it,” he tells Express. Never one to take himself too seriously, what follows is a cheeky dig at his current predicament. “But first, I need to get back on my feet!”
Could he climb even higher post injury? Maintaining a rich vein of form is never easy and he would have to play a lot of tournaments, but Sharath’s concerns are monetary. “Honestly, I would need to check my finances,” comes the reply.
Sharath is not the only one to rise to a career-best spot as Soumyajit Ghosh has become only the fourth Indian to break into the top 100. Chetan Baboor and Kamlesh Mehta did that back in their heyday.
The World No 95 knows his feat will put more pressure on him, but considers it a privilege. “It’s a good feeling. People will start to pin hopes on me and I must perform better now.”
Soumyajit hopes to follow Sharath’s example and help India’s stock rise on the world stage. It’s meaningful that both have peaked at the same time. “Only one player has ever reached the top 40 and I’m proud to be his comrade,” Ghosh signs off.
A Sharath Kamal 32 in 2015
Chetan Baboor 68 in 1999
Kamlesh Mehta 71 in 1985
Soumyajit Ghosh 95 in 2015