Sharath Kamal, India’s top paddler and flag-bearer of the Indian team for more than a decade, will miss the Commonwealth table tennis championship, to be held in Surat from December 16 to 21, after getting injured in a freak car accident in Germany last week.

Sharath was returning from a club match in Grunwetterbasch to Dusseldorf with his club-mate Patrick Franziska on December 7 (Monday) when the accident happened.

“Francisza was driving and I was sitting next to him when the right wheel burst and the car collided against the railings. I suffered minor injuries at the side and back region. There is a blood clot too. I was to reach Gandhinagar for the National camp on December 8. For a few days I could not even sit comfortably. This is the first (official tournament) I will not be representing India,” Sharath told Sportstar, on Sunday, from Dusseldorf.

“It (Sharath’s absence) will definitely have a psychological impact on the team,” said G. Sathaiyan, who is attending the National probables camp.

Sathiyan said this is probably the first time that India would be playing a big tournament without Sharath, but said the team has good experience in Soumyajit Ghosh, A. Amalraj and Harmeet Desai. “We will have to absorb the pressure,” he said.

India’s coach Bhawani Mukherjee said it was a big setback to India’s chances in Surat. “He was a mentor to all the young players. Whether it was on the table or off it, he has always been supportive of the younger ones,” he said.

“It is unfortunate and a very big setback,” said the Table Tennis Federation of India’s secretary Dhanraj Choudhary.