There has been steady growth in Indian table tennis and leading them all are top-ranked Indian players Achanta Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Manika Batra. The trio have been top-notch in recent years and have made giant strides in the annals of Indian table tennis.
The Commonwealth Games is Indian table tennis' happy hunting ground. Indian paddlers have won 20 medals in CWG, with eight medals coming in the 2018 edition, played in Gold Coast, Australia.
Achanta Sharath Kamal won India's first gold medal at CWG in the 2006 edition in Melbourne. Since then, he has been shouldering many of India's expectations at every prestigious event.
At CWG 2022, Achanta Sharath Kamal will hope to better his 2018 performance, where he won the bronze medal in the men's singles, and guide the men's team to an encore at the top of the podium.
In mixed doubles, Achanta Sharath Kamal will be partnering rookie Sreeja Akula. The pair, with enormous differences in experience, will hope to get on the podium too.
Sharath said a lot depends on how Sreeja Akula fine tunes her preparations to play in tandem with him.
In a response to Sportskeeda's query, Sharath Kamal said:
"In a doubles match, we both have to equally contribute and do our best to get the best result. If Sreeja constantly keeps feeling that I will take care of the situation or I will win points or set things up, it will not be possible. So, I have to keep talking to her constantly to make her understand that it is okay to not be afraid and take risks and not be intimidated by playing with me."
Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sreeja Akula complement each other well
In a team game, be it doubles or mixed doubles, teamwork is of prime importance. While players have their own styles and own game strategies, how they would be able to complement each other agurs well for them.
Achanta Sharath Kamal threw insight on how Sreeja Akula and his game style complement each other and would augur well for India at CWG 2022.
"She has a fantastic game style that suits me. She can also take charge at the table while I can take some distance from the table. So, it complements us very well. She has got a fantastic attacking game, which also suits me."
Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sreeja Akula trained a lot together in Hyderabad and Chennai and came to know and understand the nuances of their game very well.
"I went to Hyderabad to train with her and last week she came to Chennai to prepare for a few days. We have had some good sessions where we have been able to understand and coordinate between each other. We also got to know how to play in different game situations. We have had some clear understanding of what has to be done."
The Indian table tennis ace said the Indian team's training camp in Portugal, their final phase of preparations, will help the duo understand where they stand.
Achanta Sharath Kamal concluded:
"The training camp in Portugal will help us even better. We'll have different sparring partners and different playing styles to practice against. We will then have the WTT tournament in Budapest to see what's how things shape up, and I hope at CWG, we'll be able to do well."