With 2022 Commonwealth Games in sight, India switch table tennis men's doubles teams

Sharath Kamal-Manav Thakkar and G Sathiyan-Harmeet Desai are now the teams targetting 2022 Commonwealth Games qualification

By Samrat Chakraborty

In a bid to qualify for 2022 Commonwealth Games (CWG) and record the best-ever result, India have switched their men's doubles teams, despite their recent success at the Asian Championships in Qatar earlier this month.

Seniors paddlers Sharath Kamal-G Sathiyan and their junior compatriots Harmeet Desai-Manav Thakkar had bagged a bronze medal each in the men's doubles event at the marquee continental event.

But, in a tactical move, Kamal has been paired up with Thakkar while Sathiyan will play alongside Desai to produce the best possible results for India in the upcoming events.

"We have started to focus on doubles (for the 2022 Commonwealth Games). G Sathiyan-Harmeet Desai will be playing doubles in the upcoming pro tours and I will be playing with Sharath Kamal," Thakkar told Olympics.com.

"We have changed the teams. It will help us see which pair works better for us and then we can decide accordingly. At the same time, everyone is training well for the singles matches. I feel we are on the right track and once we play the tournaments then we will come to know better about the new combinations."

Thakkar, the former U-21 World No.1, was the sparring partner for veteran Olympian Kamal ahead of Tokyo 2020 and considers him as mentor. He also believes that picking Kamal's brain has been vital to his growth as a player.

"I think it helps a lot because Sharath Kamal has also gone through the same phase. The transformation from junior to seniors is important for many youngsters," the Rajkot-native said. "He (Sharath Kamal) guides me about where I can go practice, international places, good coaching and everything. He guides me through his European experience."

Fitness, however, has been a major concern for Thakkar. But the youngster has opted to overcome that challenge by working rigorously on it as he believes that it will also add more power to his strokes on the court.

"I'm personally working on my fitness. I need to develop more power and strength and at the same time I need to develop more quality. That will come when I have more power. So I'm working on my fitness lately. It will help in my stroke making during the match and that will be a game changer for me in future," the 21-year-old said.

Moreover, he never misses a chance to learn from the top table players in the circuit and believes that his experiences in major tournaments will help him go a long way.