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2019 Asian Table Tennis Championships

2019 Asian Table Tennis Championships Watch: Manika Batra

While winning a medal at the Asian Championships maybe easier said than done, Manika does have the potential to be the ‘Banana Skin’ for the favourites of the tournament.

2019 Asian Table Tennis Championships Watch: Manika Batra
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By

Sagnik

Published: 15 Sep 2019 11:45 AM GMT

The team events of the 2019 Asian Table Tennis Championships have kicked off in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, with the elite prize of successful qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games for the winning outfits in both the men’s and women’s competitions up for grabs. The team events will be followed by the individual and doubles events.

The Indian men’s and women’s team are set to get their campaign underway in the preliminary qualification rounds on Sunday. On one hand, the men’s team is spearheaded by the duo of Sathiyan Gnansekaran and Achanta Sharath Kamal.

On the other, the women’s team will see Indian fan favourite Manika Batra lead the country’s efforts in conjunction with her 2018 Commonwealth Games women’s doubles gold medal winning teammate in Madhurika Patkar, while Archana Girish Kamath, Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee complete the roster.

Hopes pinned on Manika

Manika Batra became the darling of the nation ever since her rise to fame in Gold Coast during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Her superlative performances Down Under caught everyone’s eye as she returned home with as many as four medals (the most by any Indian athlete at CWG 2018).

Inspired by Manika’s incredible showing through the tournament, the women’s team exceeded all expectations at CWG and went on to beat Singapore in the final to win a historic gold medal. In a few days time, the youngster bagged a second gold medal in women's singles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txxOb5E98mg

Soon after, at the Asian Games in Jakarta, the Delhi-born paddler teamed up with veteran Sharath Kamal in the mixed doubles category and claimed the bronze — only the second ever table tennis medal for India from the Asiad.

Naturally, almost everyone expects Manika to do it all over again at the Asian Championships; if not in the team or individual events, surely in mixed doubles!

Potential ‘Banana Skin’ for favourites

While winning a medal at the Asian Championships maybe easier said than done, Manika does have the potential to be the ‘Banana Skin’ for the favourites of the tournament.

Asian table tennis players are among the world’s elite. It is difficult to decide who gets the ‘favourites’ tag. Worse, it is even more difficult to decide who does not get that tag. Across the teams participating at the Championships, China, Hong Kong and Japan can be identified as the strongest contenders with Malaysia and Singapore being the dark horses.

In the team event, India should qualify for the second preliminary round trouncing both Lebanon and Jordan but the task only gets tougher thereafter. Only the top two teams that emerge following the second preliminary round will gain main draw places.

However, if Manika can replicate her 2018-form, India’s chances of causing a few major upsets here and there and getting to the main draw will increase by leaps. The 24-year-old claimed some big wins at CWG, besting the likes of Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu of Singapore. You never know, at the Asian meet, she might just pull off a new trick or two and cause a few slips on the way.

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