Commonwealth Games 2018: Veteran Mouma Das and budding Manika Batra give India real medal hope in table tennis

Name: Mouma Das and Manika Batra

Age: Mouma 34; Manika 22

Sport: Table Tennis

Category: Women's doubles

Past CWG performance: Debut

Best performance: Quarter-final at World Championships 2017 and bronze at Czech Open 2016

India's confidence of winning medals at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in table tennis is palpable and it is not difficult to understand why. With India fielding 10 paddlers constituting a bunch of seasoned pros and a slew of future stars, the contingent looks well rounded. And exemplifying a blend of experience and youth is the double's pair of Mouma Das and Manika Batra.

 Commonwealth Games 2018: Veteran Mouma Das and budding Manika Batra give India real medal hope in table tennis

Art by Rajan Gaikwad

With over two decades of experience at the senior level, Mouma, 34, is one of the most well-known names in India's table tennis arena, while Manika's growth in the sport has been unprecedented.

Mouma boasts of over 100 medals at the Nationals and at the international level combined, while at 22, Manika is the top-ranked Indian woman paddler with a wealth of experience already, including an appearance at the Rio Olympics.

The duo has forged a formidable alliance over the past couple of years and have gone from strength to strength.

The finest hour in the pair's career was when they scripted history by becoming the first Indian duo to reach the last eight at the World Table Tennis Championships in Dusseldorf, Germany last year.

“Playing against China at the World Championships in the main hall is so, so special; it has not sunken in yet. We are ready to face them, and we believe that if we play good, we have chance to beat them," senior partner Mouma was quoted as saying by the ITTF website.

Their terrific run came to an end after losing to the Chinese doubles pair of Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen in the quarter-final.

However, the year continued to be fruitful for the dynamic duo as they went on to bag silver at the Spanish Open in November.

Touted as the next big thing in women's table tennis, Manika was vocal about her intentions for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

“I want to have good runs in the big tournaments and improve my ranking. We have the Commonwealth Games next year. This time, I want to win a medal for the country,” she told Hindustan Times in an interview last year.

Another reason that works in favour of Mouma and Manika is their distinctive style of play. Mouma uses short-pimpled rubber on the forehand, while Manika plays with longer pimples on the backhand.

The pair ascended to an ITTF ranking of 12 in January 2018 – the best among the 28 Commonwealth countries that play the sport on the big stage.

Both the paddlers have had previous experience at Commonwealth Games, but they haven't featured together.

The experienced Mouma has enjoyed success in the 2010 edition in New Delhi, claiming a silver and bronze in team and women's doubles events.

Only 19 when she participated in the Glasgow Games four years ago, Manika could not progress beyond the quarter-final.

India could only manage a solitary silver in table tennis at the 2014 games – something which they would want to shrug off come the showpiece event in Australia.

"I am expecting the teams to win at least four medals. All players are in good shape which is an indication of the level of preparation. I am positive and so are the team members," men's coach Massimo Costantini told The Times of India before leaving for the competition.

Manika is likely to participate in mixed doubles alongside her singles event. However, when the rising star joins forces with Mouma in doubles the pair would be one of India's strongest bet for a medal in table tennis at Gold Coast.

Men: A Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan, Anthony Amalraj, Harmeet Desai, Sanil Shetty

Women: Manika Batra, Mouma Das, Madhurika Patkar, Pooja Sahasrabuddhe, Suthirta Mukherjee.

Coaches: Massimo Costantini (Men) and Soumyadeep Roy (Women).

Click here to read profiles of other Indian athletes involved in the Commonwealth Games 2018

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Updated Date: Apr 04, 2018 15:21:38 IST