Kolkata, Aug 21 - The Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) paddlers are likely to dominate the 42nd edition of the All-India Inter-Institutional Table Tennis Championships which get under way at the Khudiram Anushilan Kendra here Wednesday.
PSPB players are all geared up to go for yet another shot at the team titles in all the sections – men, women, Youth boys and Youth girls – where they have been given the pride of place during the six-day event that ends Aug 27.
The three-day team events till Aug 24 will see several others from institutions like the Railways and Airports Authority of India, Dena Bank, Air India, LIC, Audit and BSNL striving to unsettle the champions.
But all eyes will be focused on the contest brewing between stalwart Achanta Sharath Kamal and reigning national champion Anthony Amalraj in men’s singles. For, the latter has not only been in the best form of his life through the last season, but had also managed to prevail over Sharath to wrest the institutional crown at Burnpur.
Thereafter, in a span of four months, Amalraj snatched the national title from Sharath and then defeated him at the Olympic Qualifiers in Hong Kong earlier this year, making it three-in-a-row – the last defeat quelling a hat-trick of Olympic chances for Sharath.
All these losses must be rankling world number 73 Sharath – the only Indian in the top 100 – and he would surely use all the tricks in his bag to put it across Amalraj.
The individual contest will be played Aug 25-27.
But throwing challenge to the veterans will be former national champions like Soumyadeep Roy, Subhajit Saha and youngsters G. Sathiyan and Olympian Soumyajit Ghosh.
On the women’s side, it will be a big task for Manika Batra to defend her title. National champion Poulami Ghatak will not only want to add another title to her name but first and foremost avenge the loss she suffered her Manika’s hands. Then there are the likes of Kumaresan Shamini, Mouma Das, Madhurika Patkar and Olympian Ankita Das who will always be breathing down their necks.
With prize money coming into play in the singles event-men’s winner gets Rs. 75000 and women’s winner Rs 58,000-the singles battles will always be bitter.