Sunday, May 3, 2015


World Rankings released by the ITTF after the just concluded Qoros World Table Tennis Championship held at Suzhou, China has bought smiles to Indians all over the world. Sharath Kamal defeated Simon Gauzy of France to enter round of 32 but had to unfortunately withdraw from the tournament because of an injury in the adductor muscle in the right leg.The moment Sharath Kamal felt the excruciating pain, my heart almost skipped a beat. He was leading 3-0 and 6-5 against Simon Gauzy of France and was just 5 points away to the last 32 in the world championship when the unfortunate event happened. I felt this was unfair- unfair to him as well as to Indian Table Tennis. This was his first major injury which came at a point when he was playing the best table tennis of life.
Picture courtsey-ITTF

 But what followed next reinforced my belief that he is the greatest Indian TT player and a living legend. If you haven’t watched the match yet, you are missing something totally unbelievable and spectacular. After the medical timeout at 3-0, 6-5, he lost the 4th set, but the way he pulled off the 5th set and thus the entire match is the testimony of the level of perseverance and mind games he can play. Despite being injured, he tackled the balls so beautifully by staying close to the table and focusing more on a strong defence so quick and aggressive which left his opponent bewildered from the start till the end. Sharath finished the last point in style- hitting a forehand counter spin cross court at a speed which even the best of the Chinese would rarely produce. Before the injury Sharath kept Gauzy uncomfortable with his receives and attack, and after the injury, he kept Gauzy uncomfortable with his strong defence. Sharath dismissed Simon Gauzy in an unbelievable 4-1 victory!  Sharath proved that he is a complete player. Simon Gauzy will never forget this match his entire life. Neither will Sharath. Nor will any of us Indians.
 World rankings just released yesterday for May 2015, has given Sharath’s career a major boost. Yes, 

This is his career best ranking.  I sincerely wish him a speedy recovery from the injury and hope he gets back stronger than ever before.

This is probably one of the best days in Ghosh’s table tennis career. He achieved his long fetched dream of breaking into top 100 in the world. He currently stands as World no.95!

His spectacular performance at Suzhou where he entered round of 64 beating the mighty Aruna Quadri from Nigeria earned him this spot. Aruna Quadri was awarded the ITTF Star Player of the Year award  at the Dubai 2014 ITTF Star Awards. Ghosh pulled off a comfortable 4-1 victory against Quadri who gave India a nightmare at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August 2014.  With this, Ghosh has even greater responsibility towards himself. He has to work harder to improve from here as it gets tougher to maintain and then go up the ladder.

Ghosh in action at the World TT Championship 2015
Picture courtsey-ITTF

Good news has not yet ended.  G.Sathiyan, who has been in an incredible form since he finished his engineering last year, has climbed up 26 ranks and is now at 162. In Suzhou, he qualified for the main draw and in the first round beat Par Gerell from Sweden in a thrilling 4-1 victory to enter the round of 64. He played his heart out but lost to the current men’s singles finalist Fang Bo 1-4 in the round of 64.  
 Harmeet Desai is at 167 and the flamboyant Sanil Shetty is at no 242.

I am feeling quiet positive about minimum two men qualifying for the next year’s summer Olympics to be held at Rio. If Sharath can get a direct entry based on his world rank and a minimum of one more player should qualify from the South Asian quota, first time ever a minimum of 2 men from India will stand a chance to qualify for the same Olympics.

Coming back after a back injury which she suffered during the National Games earlier this year, Manika Batra stands as world no 142. Topping the rankings from India since the last one year now, Manika shares dual responsibility- to improve further without any more injuries and to break into the top 100. She has a bright future and a long way to go, but she needs to pull up her socks and try to be more consistent at the international arena.
Huge task ahead of Manika
Picture courtsey-ITTF

National Champion Mouma Das has jumped up 7 spots and is now at 164. Poulomi Ghatak is at 182, Ankita Das at 186 and K.Shamini who was out of international competition for the past 7 months emerged at 202.  Madhurika Pathkar also climbed up from 226 to 213.

None of the women in the recent times has entered top 100 in the world and the question is why so. Men have done it but women lag far behind as far as the rankings are concerned. As many as 6 men are playing in different leagues in Europe which has elevated their level.  The concern for women needs to be addressed by the federation and the players themselves. Maybe it’s time we get out of our comfort zones, adopt a different strategy, and change the way we approach the game.

Men have changed the face of Indian Table Tennis, and now, women need to follow suit.