India’s hopes of defending its table tennis title in the women’s team event ended on Saturday when the team led by star paddler Manika Batra lost to Malaysia 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the Games Commonwealth of Birmingham 2022.
Having reached the quarters without losing a single game (against South Africa, Fiji, Guyana), the defending champions looked in good form and were heavy favorites to win against a lower-ranked Malaysian side.
However, things took a turn and the team led by Manika Batra were upset by the Malaysians against whom they secured an easy 3-0 victory in the quarter-finals of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
With Batra being the most experienced of the team, a lot of pressure was naturally on her shoulders as the rest of the team had CWG newbies in the form of Sreeja Akula, Diya Chitale, and Reeth Tennison on the team. After a rocky start in doubles, things quickly began to fall apart for the team and Batra’s nerves caught up with them as well, forcing the defending champions to pull out of the event early.
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How did India lose to Malaysia in the quarter-finals?
In the opener of the match, Malaysia’s Karen Lyne/Li Sian Alice Chang handed India their first loss of the campaign as Reeth Tennison/Sreeja Akula duo failed to convert a fierce battle losing 3 -1.
Although the Malaysians’ lead didn’t last long as India’s top paddler, world No. 41 Manika Batra beat Ying Ho in a five-game tiebreak (3-2) to level the score (1-1 ).
This was followed by national champion Sreeja Akula who made up for her doubles loss by defeating Li Sian Alice Chang in straight sets (3-0) to give India a 2-1 lead.
However, what happened in the next match broke many hearts in India as Malaysia’s Karen Lyne got the better of Manika Batra in straight sets 3-0 as India failed to seal legality.
Building on the momentum, Malaysia’s Ying Ho, who faced India’s Tennison for the tiebreaker, secured Malaysia a place in the semi-finals in a fierce match, winning 3-2.
What went wrong for the Indian team?
Just before the start of the Games, there were some controversies surrounding the CWG-linked Indian table tennis team. The originally announced team consisted of Manika Batra, Reeth Tennison, Sreeja Akula and Archana Kamath. Diya Chitale was kept as a reserve.
However, three players have appealed to the Delhi High Court against their exclusion from the team: Diya Chitale, Manush Shah and Swastika Ghosh stating that the Committee of Administrators (CoA) which runs the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) after his suspension, has selected a player who does not meet the eligibility criteria for the Games.
What are the eligibility criteria for selection to the Indian Table Tennis Team for the Games?
As per the designed rules, a point based system is followed for selection into the Indian table tennis team with a minimum score of 51 points. The breakdown of it is as follows:
• Existing criteria: national ranking 50% + international ranking 30% + discretion of selectors 20%
• The highest ranked Indian international player gets 30 points while the 10th ranked Indian international player gets 3 points
• The highest ranked player in the national ranking gets 50 points while the 10th ranked player in the national ranking gets 5 points
• 20 remaining points are distributed by the national selection committee and the coach
Why was the petition filed?
As per the above rule, a player must score at least 51 points in order to qualify for the Indian table tennis team at the Commonwealth Games. However, given the international performances of Manika Batra and Archana Kamath, their individual point totals rise to 50 and 47 respectively, meaning neither of them meet the criteria, but both have still found a place in the league. team because the pair are number one in the world. . 4th in the ladies’ doubles standings.
However, Batra being a top player with extraordinary skills, she continued to stay in the squad, but an inconsistent performance by Kamath, losing in the Round of 16 of the National Championships raised questions about her inclusion of other players. who make the cut. -stopped.
As the national ranking is more weighted according to the existing criteria which should be revised in October this year, Diya Chitale had an advantage over Batra and Kamath with a total of 72 points (40 from the national ranking + 12 from the international ranking + 20 from the committee of selection and coach) and therefore she and two others, filed a lawsuit for his exclusion from the team despite meeting the eligibility criteria.
What was the result ?
The controversy led to the dismissal of experienced Archana Kamath who, along with Manika, has been one of India’s consistent doubles pairs in the sport. Chitale replaced Kamath, leaving Manika Batra as the only highly experienced player and the only player from the 2018 Women’s Team in the CWG-bound team.
Thus, the lack of experience on the international circuit for some players in the team was one of the main reasons for India’s defeat in the quarter-finals and the controversies that surrounded it only resulted in the downfall of the team, smashing India’s chance of having a well-deserved women’s table tennis team. medal.
Does this mean Indian women in table tennis would come from CWG 2022 without a medal?
No, the individual events have not yet taken place from Wednesday August 3rd and it is hoped that the players will be able to meet the expectations of Indian fans and make up for the setback of the team event.