For a change Soumyajit, not Sharath, is India’s top-ranked paddler

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) Rio Olympics-bound Soumyajit Ghosh jumped 20 places to be 65th in the world table tennis rankings released on Thursday, upstaging his icon Achanta Sharath Kamal, who was down 12 places to be 73rd.

As per the ITTF rankings list released on Thursday, Soumyajit was ahead of Sharath by eight places. This is the first time ever that the 22-year-old has demolished the Sharath hegemony as the top-ranked Indian paddler.

While Soumyajit has 2220 points, Sharath got 2,175. The remarkable upswing in Soumyajit’s world ranking was possible because of his sterling performances at the Asian Cup in Dubai last week. He had beaten a higher ranked South Korean player apart from accounting for a Taipei paddler, paving the way for the surge.

The 2012 Olympian had finished seventh in the Inter Continental Cup Group of the Asian Cup event at Dubai last week. After qualifying for the main draw, he defeated for the first time Taipei’s Chiang Hung-Chieh 4-3 (10-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4) in a tough battle.

But even before that, the Siliguri paddler had another first to his credit when he felled Korean Youngsik Jung in the semi-finals of the men’s singles challenge 3-2 (11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8) to enter the main draw.

Soumyajit had lost badly to the Korean twice before both at the Australia Open Challenge and the Korea Open, which is a super series.

Sharath, who too participated in the Dubai event, lost all three of his qualifying matches and that has cost him dear. Unfortunately, the 33-year-old has had a very bad season since the 2015 world championships and injury after injury has pushed him down.

National women’s singles champion Manika Batra, too, gained six places, to be at No.128 after putting up a fine display at the Asian Cup’s Continental group event. She led the pack of four players, defeating Noora Al-Abri of Qatar 3-0, Majd Alblooshi of UAE 3-1 and then finally scalping Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut 3-0 to enter the quarter-finals, which is the women’s singles challenge. In the quarter-finals, she lost to Hong Kong’s Huajun Jiang 1-3 (5-11, 8-11, 11-9, 9-11).

Nevertheless, this ranking boost should help her before she embarks on her maiden Olympics trip.

Mouma, another Rio-bound player, has lost eight places since her outing in the World Championships in Malaysia. She was No.150 soon after but on Thursday she was occupying the 158th spot in world rankings.

–IANS

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