It’s a Bengal show

Sub-junior champions… Avik Das (left) and Anushree Hazra.-K. V. SRINIVASAN Sub-junior champions… Avik Das (left) and Anushree Hazra.

The manner in which Bengal dominated the championship pointed to the abundance of talent in the state. S. R. Suryanarayan reports.

At a time when Indian table tennis has hardly made any impact at the international level, the focus must shift to the sub-juniors in order to assess what lies ahead. It is from this section that an indication can be had about India’s future players. The Sub-junior National Championship held in Chennai had plenty to offer in terms of competition. It also underlined Bengal’s supremacy in the sport. There is so much of talent in the state that North Bengal and Wes t Bengal have separate associations to cater to their needs.

The Table Tennis Federation of India, ideally, should have had its academy in Bengal instead of Ajmer. The Sub-junior Nationals, where the paddlers from Bengal stole the show, drove home this point.

The only doubt about the Bengal players was their physical stature. The boys, in particular, looked taller and stouter than the rest.

This is not to suggest that they were over-aged or that was the reason for the state’s domination. On the contrary, the organisers did not receive any protest with regard to the age of the players.

The fact that Bengal provides plenty of table tennis talent for the country is commendable. Even in the TTFI’s Petroleum Sport Board Academy there are quite a few players from Bengal. What strikes one about the Academy boys is that they not only stand apart from the other players, but are also well disciplined.

As Dhanraj Choudhary, the Technical Committee Chairman of TTFI, said, the Academy not only helps develop young talent but also brings them up on the right lines.

He cited the example of Abhishek Yadav, a cadet player from UP, who, Dhanraj said, came from a very poor family. Left alone with his poverty, his talent would have gone waste. However, the TTFI picked him and put him at the Academy, which is now taking care of his academics and dietary requirements besides developing his skills.

Abhishek proved to be PSPB’s trump card as he guided its cadet team to victory, though in the sub-junior section he was outdone by the North Bengal players.

As the Academy’s Chinese coach, Yen Wei put it: “The boy is very young. He played too many matches (in the cadet and sub-junior categories) and he looked tired. I have seen him play much better.”

For one who had moulded Soumyadeep into a national champion, Wei knows his wards very well and for Indian table tennis that is what matters.

THE RESULTS

Team championship — Boys: North Bengal bt PSPB ‘A’ 3-1.

Girls: Maharashtra ‘A’ bt Delhi 3-1. Cadet boys: PSPB ‘A’ bt WB 3-1. Cadet girls: North Bengal bt AP 3-1.

Individual events — Sub-junior boys: Avik Das (NB) bt S. Sudarshan (TN) 7-11, 11-5, 15-13, 12-10, 11-6.

Doubles: Rajib Sarkar & Subham Basak (NB) bt Arnab Adhikari and Avik Das (NB) 6-11, 11-6, 12-10, 12-10.

Sub-junior girls: Anushree Hazra (WB) bt C. Chavri Kawle (Mah) 11-9, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9.

Doubles: Mallika Bhandarkar and Charvi Kawle (Mah) bt S. Krithicka and Reeth Rishya (TN) 11-2, 11-7, 9-11, 12-10.

Cadet boys: Suvendu Shaw (WB) bt Aditya Moitra (WB) 5-11, 13-11, 11-5, 11-3.

Cadet girls: Jagriti Virmani (Del) bt Oisarja Deb (NB) 11-7, 11-8, 11-6.