The Indian men's rapid strides on the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) circuit have been rewarded with a rise to the World No. 15 spot in the team rankings released in August.
The men’s team that started 2016 at 22nd, now has accumulated 206 points, which has helped them jump into the top 15 in a year and a half.
The team rankings are vital to score an automatic qualification and a seeding at the prestigious World Team Championships that will be held in Halmstad, Sweden in 2018.
Team rankings reflect India’s recent improvements
Since the team rankings are based on the rating points earned by the three highest ranked individual players of an association, India’s surge in rankings reflects the success of the nation’s paddlers.
Multiple Commonwealth Games gold medallist Achanta Sharath Kamal is placed at 46th, Harmeet Desai is 78th, Soumyajit Ghosh is 86th, apart from Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who is 90th.
This is the first time that four Indian men are inside the world’s top 100.
Besides the top four, Anthony Amalraj is 125th and Sanil Shetty is 161st.
This follows the dazzling display of the Indian men at the Australian Open, an ITTF World Tour Platinum event in July. The World Tour Platinum provides more ranking points and prize money which is why competition is of the highest quality in these tournaments.
Sathiyan, who won the Belgium Open in 2016, had reached the Round of 16 from the qualifying stages and that fulfilled his top 100 dream. The Chennai ace carried his impeccable form into the recently-concluded Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) - a pan-Indian league and finished unbeaten for his team, the Dabang Smashers.
The 2015 Commonwealth Championships bronze medallist Sanil Shetty was the other Indian who shone at the Australian Open and he too made it to the Round of 16 from the qualifiers, which pushed him up by a whopping 40 places.
India’s steady climb validates that the country has one of the strongest batches of players now who could aim to emulate the 12th place finish by the Indians at the 1985 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Indian women 23rd
The Indian women’s team too is not far behind and is 23rd with 160 points. Manika Batra is the highest placed women’s paddler in the individual rankings at 104th. Mouma Das is next best at 135th while Ayhila Mukherjee is 158th.