My job is to build pressure on opponents before Manika takes over

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Since winning the bronze medal in the mixed doubles at the 2018 Asian Games, the expectations of Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra have soared. Indian rowers have never medaled in the Olympics, but with the right tactics, this table tennis duo can surprise anyone on any given day.

On Saturday, July 24, Sharath and Manika will face the Chinese Taipei pair Lin Yj and Cheng IC, the third seed, in mixed doubles.

Sportskeeda had an exclusive conversation with Sharath Kamal at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium prior to the Games.

Sharath represented the country for the fourth time at the Olympics, saying:

“The experience has been different so far, with lots of protocols and empty stadiums, but safety first. This is my fourth Olympics, but the first in pandemic. Everyone was a little bit concerned about the games and what the games will be like. But I’m very happy to be here. I had a good pre-Olympic training and was happy with it.”

When asked about the first-round mixed doubles game against the third-seeded Chinese Taipei pair, Sharath replied:

“It will be difficult, we have never played against them before. We have a slightly different combination (with manika), we will try to get the Chinese Taipei pair in our strategic and tactical game. If we are able to upset, the draw will be wide open and we can go a long way. I hope we can start well against the Chinese Taipei duo.”

Sharat added:

“I like to be busy during the game and then I don’t make many mistakes. You have to have a mental state of mind where you can turn the game into a win. But at the same time we have to get the chance to seize that opportunity.”

Also read: Form guide: How did Indian archers fare in Tokyo Olympics tournaments?

Sharath Kamal praises Manika Batra

Sharath also told about her partner Manika. He said:

“Manika is able to up her game under pressure when we’re in a difficult situation. Her game can surprise opponents. They go like – Oh wow, where is this coming from?”

Manika Batra is ready for the Tokyo Olympics
Manika Batra is ready for the Tokyo Olympics

Sharath thinks it’s his job to set up the game for Manika. He said:

“My job is to build up the pressure on the opponents and then Manika can take over.”

With a few positive cases confirmed, we asked the Indian paddler about the spread of fear due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said:

“We keep hearing this from players from other countries as well. But we are here with a purpose and our focus has to stay on the game. There are only two days left to start the games and I hope everything goes well.”

Also read: Schedule Olympic Games 2021 in Tokyo

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