CUTTACK: As expected, India started strongly in their team championship campaign to top their groups in both the men’s and women’s sections and qualify for the Super Eight stage of the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday. Such was India’s domination that they lost just two games — one by A Sharath Kamal against Singapore’s Zheyu Clarence Chew and another by Ayhika Mukherjee against Chamathsara Fernando.
The team management kept faith in the trio of Sharath, G Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai who did their job to ease to a 3-0 win over Scotland and then followed it up with a similar verdict against Singapore. England, with the experienced Samuel Walker, is the only team that can pose a problem. In women’s event, coaches Soumyadeep Roy and Brett Clarke tried out the bench strength, employing different combinations in the two group matches. Manika Batra and Ayhika, 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.
Results: 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 bt Bimandi 11-5, 11-4, 11-5; Archana bt Ishara 11-5, 11-5, 12-10; Ayhika bt Chamathsara 11-3, 11-3, 8-11, 11-4); India bt South Africa 3-0 (Archana bt Danisha 11-6, 11-2, 11-2; Madhurika bt Palesa 11-2, 11-5, 11-3; Sutirtha bt Simeen 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 (Sathiyan bt Niall 11-4, 11-7, 11-8; Sharath bt Colin 11-2, 11-6, 11-9; Harmeet bt Dylan 11-2, 11-6, 11-1); India bt Singapore 3-0 (Sathiyan bt Yu En Koen 11-7, 11-9, 11-8; Sharath bt Zheyu 8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9; Harmeet bt Shao Han 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.
Uganda, Guyana late for team events
The meet was supposed to be a 12-team affair but Wednesday saw TTFI receive communication from Uganda and Guyana regarding their participation. Initially, they had pulled out citing delay in receiving their government’s clearance. One paddler from Uganda reached the venue and asked for accreditation which led to confusion but it was sorted out soon. The rest of the teams are set to arrive here on Friday. “Due to late entry, we couldn’t accommodate them in team events. It is good for the profile of the event if it has more participation,” TTFI secretary MP Singh said.