Commonwealth Table Tennis: Sharath Kamal confident of gold medal sweep

Given a choice, Sharath is keen to play in the team events and the two doubles; a decision on whether he will figure in the singles draw will be taken in a couple of days.

Indian paddler Sharath Kamal at the Indian Oil Conclave 2019 in New Delhi on Monday.   -  PTI

Given the feeble overseas challenge, Sharath Kamal is confident of the Indian men making an unprecedented gold medal sweep in the upcoming Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship in Cuttack this week.

“Since England, Nigeria and Singapore are not fielding their best players, Indian men should win the team and open events,” said the winner of 10 medals, including the 2004 singles and team championship gold medals.

“With the Commonwealth Games getting all the attention it deserves, the focus has slowly moved away from the Commonwealth Championship. Thanks to the Table Tennis Federation of India which has come forward to hold the event and offered free hospitality to all the teams. In recent years, there are few takers for this championship but creditably, India has kept it going,” said the 37-year-old.

Looking ahead to the competition, Sharath said, “the way G. Sathiyan (ranked 24th in the world) has been playing, we should not face much difficulty in the team events. He is in the form of his life. That apart, two seasoned campaigners from England (Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall) and Nigeria (Aruna Quadri and Segun Toriola) are not coming. Singapore, too, is fielding a young side. Other teams are not so strong.”

Given a choice, Sharath would like to play in the team events and the two doubles. “It has been quite a tiring month for all of us. If I can be allowed to skip singles, I feel I’ll be able to perform better in team event and doubles,” he said.

A decision on whether Sharath will figure in the singles draw will be taken in a couple of days.

Meanwhile, issues pertaining to visas and funding of passage to India has forced a few countries, including Pakistan, to stay away. So far, 12 countries in both sections are part of the draw.