Singapore teams get top billing, Indians seeded 2nd in TT tourney

Surat, Dec 15 (IANS) Singapore’s men and women teams have been accorded the top seedings with the Indian sides placed one spot behind them following the open draw proceedings on the eve of the team championships of the 20th Avadh Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships here on Tuesday.

The seeding of each team was based on the individual rankings of their three best players who are participating here. With only 12 teams taking part in the men’s event, the squads were divided into four groups and the nine women’s sides in three groups, according to a release.

Singapore’s men have been drawn in group A, clubbed with Sri Lanka and New Zealand while India take the top position in group B along with Trinidad & Tobago and Jersey. England, who are seeded third here, form part of Group C with Northern Ireland and Wales and Group D comprises No. 4 seeded Scotland, Cyprus and South Africa.

As for women’s draw, again Singapore in Group A have for company South Africa and Cyprus and India in Group B have Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland. England, Wales and South have been clubbed into Group C.

In the format of play, according to Commonwealth regulations, two teams from each group in the men’s section will qualify for the second stage and the winners of these groups will be divided into a further two groups of E and D to play another set of league matches. The teams that take the top perch in each of these E and D groups will clash for the gold medal. The rest of the teams will play positional matches with the third and fourth finish squads getting the bronze medals.

Interestingly, the teams’ draw makes the prediction loud and clear about who could emerge the gold winners in the two categories. If Singapore’s burden is on the shoulders of Li Hu, who is ranked 59th in the world, the responsibility of winning the women’s team championships will be on Zhou Yihan (46), the only player figuring in the top-50 of the world here. Of course, she has world No. 57 in Lin Ye whose support Zhou can expect if and when there is a need.

On the other hand, India will rely mostly on the experience of Soumyajit Ghosh (world No.95) and expect Anthony Amalraj, G. Sathiyan, Harmeet Desai and Devesh Karia, the last two named from Gujarat, to pitch in whenever called to do duty.

With the format allowing only three players to be named in the squad, it all depends on the cleverness of the coaches to get their combinations right at the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Indoor Stadium.

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