The Indian TT contingent arrived in Birmingham with history on its side following a rich haul of eight medals in the last edition at Gold Coast. All eyes will again be on poster girl Manika Batra when India begin action in the first two rounds of the team events at the National Exhibition Centre in Solihull.
Batra almost single-handedly brought the game into limelight last time by winning the country’s first gold medal in the women’s singles event. She went on to win gold in the women’s team event too, along with bagging a silver in women’s double. She stamped her authority by ending the Singaporean supremacy in 2018.
She remains the only face from Gold Coast as India have fielded a completely new-look women’s side after much drama over the selection process.
Batra, who is India’s highest rated women’s player this time, remaining inside the world’s top 50, will have to guide Reeth Rishya, Sreeja Akula and Diya Chitale in order to see India finish on the podium. However, the youngsters, including reigning national champion Chitale, have shown much promise.
In contrast, the Indian men’s side is an experienced lot with old warhorse Sharath Kamal leading the charge. The 40-yearold, who will appear in his fifth CWG, will have the company of Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty, who all have good experience of competing at the highest level.
The men’s side could be expected to enjoy a better run this time. In the mixed doubles events, the Sathiyan-Batra pair remains favourite to bag the gold after missing out in 2018. Sathiyan, who made his CWG debut at Gold Coast, looks a more mature player with the experience of the Olympics and the Asian Games.
Batra will team up with Chitale this time in the women’s doubles competition.
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