Sharath, Soumyajit plead TTFI for a 'favour'

Rio-bound duo of A. Sharath Kamal and Soumyajit Ghosh have made a verbal plea to the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to allow them to play their matches in the All India inter-institutional table tennis championship here with the same brand of ball, chosen for the upcoming Olympic Games.

Sharath Kamal (right) and Soumyajit Ghosh check out two brands of table tennis balls before their practice-session on Wednesday.

Rio-bound duo of A. Sharath Kamal and Soumyajit Ghosh have made a verbal plea to the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to allow them to play their matches in the All India inter-institutional table tennis championship here with the same brand of ball, chosen for the upcoming Olympic Games.

Sharath and Soumyajit, seeded a distant sixth and eighth, respectively, owing to the lack of domestic ranking points, are here for the individual events.

“For three months, we have trained separately (Soumyajit in Sweden and Sharath in Germany) with DHS balls while the one used here is GKI Premium. There is a huge difference in the characteristics of these two brands. The DHS ball, with seam, is much lighter and slower as compared to the seamless GKI ball that is heavier and faster. We will be required to switch to GKI ball for the next two days and then to DHS in the week leading to the start of the Games,” explained Soumyajit.

Sharath echoed Soumyajit’s concern and said, “it takes time to get used to the pace and bounce of a ball. Don’t be surprised if you see us top-edging the GKI ball here.” Though in the earlier rounds, it could be possible for these two players to use the DHS ball from their personal stock. But in the quarterfinals and beyond, the other title-aspirants could object to the use of DHS ball since it would place them at a distinct disadvantage.

“We cannot be unfair to other players and make them play with DHS balls which they are not used to. Since Sharath and Soumyajit have voiced a valid concern, we are willing to look at it. But we cannot force players to play (with DHS balls),” said N. Ganeshan, the Competition Manager, of the event.

Meanwhile, the men’s draw raised hopes of possible quarterfinals involving top seed and national champion A. Amalraj against Soumyajit and Sharath clashing with another former national champion Sanil Shetty. In the ladies draw, Olympic qualifier and fifth seed Mouma Das could play fourth seed Pooja Saharabudhe for a place in the semifinals.

The group league, in both sections, produced expected qualifiers.

The seeds (from Petroleum unless stated):

Men singles: 1. A. Amalraj, 2. G. Sathiyan, 3. Sanil Shetty, 4. Harmeet Desai, 5. Jubin Kumar, 6. Sharath Kamal, 7. Subhajit Saha, 8. Soumyajit Ghosh.

Women singles: 1. Madhurika Patkar, 2. Manika Batra, 3. Reeth Rishya, 4. Pooja Sahasrabudhe, 5. Mouma Das, 6. K. Shamini, 7. Shruti Amrute (Air India), 8. Krittiwika Sinha Roy.

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