TT: West Bengal favourites as focus on age fraud

Ajmer, Dec 23: The much-delayed Cadet and Sub-Junior National Table Tennis Championships will be finally underway with the team events setting the ball rolling at the Moolchand Chouhan Indoor Stadium from Tuesday.

The event, allotted to the Rajasthan Table Tennis Association, had to be put off from November to December with the state assembly elections dates clashing with the championships preparations.

As per the draw, teams from West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh have been given the top slots in the sub-junior boys and girls categories, while PSPB Academy and West Bengal in the cadet boys and girls sections lead the group charts.

However, what happened last year need not be repeated this year as, on a given day, any individual or a group of paddlers can make the groupings ridiculously topsy-turvy.

Since the format in these age-group events is such that it gives a great opportunity to each and every player, representing different states, to have a go at their rivals. With four singles and one doubles rubber to play, every team, barring a few, can think about having a real shot at the titles.

Ronit Bhanja, who won the sub-junior title in the boys’ section at the North Zone meet in Delhi last week, had come under a cloud after he failed to submit his birth certificate when the TTFI went on a surprise verification-spree.

Bhanja’s title trophy was withheld, points not added to the ranking list and he was told to submit his birth proof documents here at Ajmer. He would be spearheading West Bengal’s attack once again and, if he fails to provide valid documents before the start, he would be suspended, spelling doom for his team.

There were three other overage cases in Delhi and it remains to be seen how many of them are going to participate here, though their teams have sent in the entries.

The Table Tennis Federaton of India (TTFI) has asked the four players to report the Medical Jurist at the Jawaharlal Nehru Government Hospital, which has been approached to conduct the medical tests.