It has been a happy bonhomie for the Indian duo since they decided to pair up once again after the Tokyo Olympics. They clicked instantly during their first outing together, by winning the World Table Tennis Contenders title in Budapest, Hungary. Thereafter, they made the semifinals of the Contenders event in Tunisia and the quarterfinals of the World Championships in Houston last year.
India’s history at the Commonwealth Games
Their good run was rewarded when the Indian duo broke into the top 10 of world rankings occupying the No. 7 spot in March this year. Even the players themselves did not expect the rise to happen so fast. “We had set a target: we wanted to break into the top 10 in a year. We’ve done it in seven months. That’s pretty quick, a meteoric rise and we’re happy about it,” Sathiyan had said a few days after they claimed a silver medal at the World Table Tennis Contenders in Doha going down to World No. 1 I-Ching Cheng and Yun-Ju Lin in the final.
Before the 2021 season, the duo had last played together at the 2018 CWG which was a landmark event as far as Indian TT is concerned with the Indian paddlers returning with a record eight medals – three gold, two silver and three bronze medals.
But Indian table tennis went through much upheaval after that with more action witnessed inside the court premises rather than on the table. Even the selection of the CWG squad was challenged. With things settling down now, much will depend on Sathiyan and Manika, who won a bronze medal at the Gold Coast event four years ago, to lift the game in the country by winning a medal in Birmingham.
Singapore, Nigeria and England will be their main rivals this time.
The duo has complimented each other well on the table with Manika’s top spin backed by Sathiyan’s counterattacks. They have specifically worked together at the Raman Performance High-Performance TT Centre in Chennai on coordinating their footwork, which is so important in doubles play where each player has to keep moving even when not playing (the next ball) and be in the right position to allow his/her partner proper access to the ball.
“Sathiyan really is a dream doubles partner,” Manika stated. “We’ve developed because we’ve known each other for so long on the circuit,” Sathiyan had said.
The two want to use a good CWG result as the stepping stone to a medal at the Paris Olympics 2024.
Men: Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan, Harmeet Desai, Sanil Shetty
Women: Manika Batra, Reeth Rishya, Sreeja Akula, Diya Chitale