The Indian men's team comprising Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Manush Shah, Harmeet Desai, Manav Thakkar and Sanil Shetty landed in a tough Group 2 along with second-seed Germany, European giants France, Kazakhstan and the Group Stage draw for the 2022 ITTF World Team Table Championship starting here on Friday.
The team coached by national coach S Raman and missing veteran player and 2022 Commonwealth Games double gold medallist Achanta Sharath Kamal, will be hoping to make it to the knockout stage from the five-team group. The 32 teams in the fray have been divided into seven groups with Groups 5, 6 and 7 having four teams each while Groups 1 to 4 have five each.
In the women's section, the Indian team comprising Manika Batra, Sreeja Akula, Seeth Tennison, Diya Parag Chitale and Swastika Ghosh has been placed in Group 5 along with Germany, Egypt and the Czech Republic in the event which will be held from September 30-October 9.
The 28 women's teams in the fray have been divided into six groups with Groups 1-4 having five teams each while Groups 5 and 6 have four each, as per the draw held on Thursday.
Defending champions in both sections, China occupy the top-seeded positions in both events. With an abundance of experience, China starts as clear favourites. Seasoned players such as Ma Long and Fan Zhendong form the backbone of the men's team. For the women, Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu are no strangers to the biggest stage of all.
Notably, in the groups, there is a sense of history, with a return to the era of Ping Pong Diplomacy. It is just over 50 years ago since a Chinese team landed in Detroit. In both the men's and women's events China is drawn in the same group as the United States, the ITTF said on its website.
Among other top teams, Japan are in Group 3 with Hong Kong China, Romania, Iran and Hungary.
In men's section, the Indian team coached by S Raman will start its campaign against Uzbekistan while in the women's section, the women's team will open proceedings against Germany. Both matches will be played on October 1.
For the Swaythling Cup in the men's section, teams will play in a round-robin format in the group stage with the top two from the seven groups and the two best third-placed teams qualifying for the 16-team knockout rounds.
In the women's competition for the Corbillon Cup, the top two teams from six groups after the round-robin competition and four best-placed third-placed teams will qualify for the knockout rounds.
The knockout stage starts on October 5. The women's and men's finals will take place on October 8 and October 9 respectively.
( 475 Words)