Sharath Kamal: Ghosh's suspension has "hit" the team members

The former champion hopes to return with at least two CWG medals.

This may be Sharath Kamal's last appearance in the Commonwealth Games.   -  G. RAMAKRISHNA

The provisional suspension of Soumyajit Ghosh and his eventual exclusion from the table tennis squad for the Commonwealth Games - after the player faced allegations of sexual assault - has clearly “hit” the team members.

Sharath Kamal, in the Capital for the mandatory dope-test ahead of the team’s departure, is eying a possible seventh medal from his fourth appearance at the Games beginning in Gold Coast on April 4.

The eighth-time National champion was candid in his assessment on how the absence of Ghosh had impacted the team.

READ: Doubles dilemma for India after Ghosh suspension

“Personally, we all have taken a hit. Ghosh is such a good team man. He would have played singles and doubles. As things stand, we have to re-assess the prospects once we start practising in Gold Coast next week. Professionally, we all understand that table tennis is an individual game. Each one gives his best and in turn, the team gains.”

Looking at the opposition, Sharath said, “England will be the team to beat. India is the second strongest, ahead of Singapore. Therefore, we are in serious contention for a team medal.”

The 2006 gold medallist is likely to play two singles in the team format that includes four singles and a doubles. “As an option, I can play a singles and a doubles (with G. Sathiyan). We shall take a call depending on the opposition.”

Looking at the individual events, Sharath sounded optimistic of returning with the men’s doubles medal to go with the team medal. “I am confident of two medals. With a bit of luck, it could be three or four. In fact, Sharath will be playing with a fourth partner in men’s doubles as many editions having turned out with Soumyadeep Roy (in 2006), won the gold with Subhajit Saha (in 2010) and silver medal with A. Amalraj (in 2014).

Should Sharath and Manika Batra join hands in mixed doubles, the pair could well be in the medal hunt.

Reflecting on his preparation, Sharath said, “I am ready. I think the National title (in January) gave me the fillip I needed. Thereafter, the performance in Qatar Open (where he stunned World No. 7 and top-ranked Japanese Koki Niwa) really made me believe that I am ready for the Commonwealth Games."