World C'ships: Sharath, Sathiyan spearhead Indian challenge

India's leading players Sharath Kamal, G. Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai will be expected to defeat a few higher-ranked seeds, replicating the nation's performance last year.

Except Sharath Kamal, G. Sathiyan and Manika Batra, the rest of the Indians have been placed in qualifying groups in singles.   -  Getty Images

The Indian men’s team performed admirably in the World championships last year finishing 13th, its best-ever, with leading players Sharath Kamal, G. Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai producing a few upsets.

The women’s team finished a poor 17th.

Hoping for upsets

This time, when the Worlds individual events begin on Sunday, India will once again look to Sharath and Sathiyan to pull off a few upsets.

The team will also hope they do well together in the doubles and expect the mixed doubles pair of Sharath and Manika Batra to make some waves.

“It would be greatly satisfying if I reach the singles round of 16 (draw of 128),” Sharath, who is seeded 32, told Sportstar. The 36-year-old’s best finish has been the round of 32 in 2009, ’15 and ’18 .

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Sathiyan is on a bull run, having booked his place in the World Cup.

“Reaching the round of 32 or 16 will be huge. It all depends on the draw,” said Sathiyan, who is seeded 24.

A. Amalraj, who is making a comeback after playing in the Worlds last in 2013, will be looking forward to making an impression.

Manika will be keen to leave a mark. Seeded 42, the 23-year-old will hope to post a couple of wins. Former National champion Madhurika Patkar will play the qualifiers scheduled on Sunday.

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For newcomers Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath the Worlds will be a learning curve. Except Sharath, Sathiyan and Manika, the rest of the Indians have been placed in qualifying groups in singles.

Roy, Basak in charge

India's foreign coach Dejan Papic, who was expected to take charge at the Worlds, it is learnt, will now reach the country not before June-July.

Soumyadeep Roy and Arup Basak will be the coaches.
 

The team:

Men: Sharath, Sathiyan, Amalraj & Manav Thakkar; Women: Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Madhurika Patkar & Archana Kamath.

Events:

Men’s doubles: Amalraj-Manav; Sharath-Sathiyan; Women’s doubles: Manika-Archana; Sutirtha-Madhurika; Mixed doubles: Sathiyan-Archana; Sharath-Manika.