India will start overwhelming favourites to defend their titles and make a clean sweep when the team events begin in the Badminton and Table Tennis disciplines of the 12th South Asian Games here tomorrow.
India are clubbed with Pakistan in the women’s table tennis in Group A and the much-anticipated face-off between the arch-rivals will be preceded by their opening match against Maldives at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Sports Hall.
The top two teams from group A and B will advance into the semis in the seven-team competition.
In the men’s section, India are clubbed with Nepal and Bangladesh in the three-team Group A and the Table Tennis team are quietly confident that they will make a clean sweep of the disciplines.
India will be represented by Anthony Arpurtharaj, Sathiyan Gnanasekharan, Devesh Karia, Sudhanshu Grover and Sanil Shankar Shetty in the men’s table tennis.
Manika Batra, Mouma Das, Pooja Sahasrabudhe, Shamini Kumaresan and Madhurika Patkar will lead the challenge in the women’s table tennis.
India won all seven gold medals on offer at the last edition of the Games in 2010 at Dhaka and coach and former national champion Arup Basak feels they can repeat that performance.
“In table tennis we are going to get all the titles,” Basak said today while his top players were warming up.
“We have in our team the current (women’s) national champion Manika Batra and (men’s) national champion Anthony Amalraj,” he informed.
Men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles, mixed doubles, men’s team and women’s team events will be held at the Games from February 6-10, with a total of seven gold medals on offer.
India also claimed five silver last time around, with Sri Lanka bagging two.