New Delhi: High on with confidence after a month-long training stint in Sweden, Indian paddlers on Friday left for Bahrain to compete in the World Junior Table Tennis Championships to be held at Manama from November 13 to 20.

World number 25 Soumyajit Ghosh, who became the first Indian to clinch a medal in the last edition, will lead the country's charge along with Harmeet Desai (WR 26), G Sathiyan (WR 40) and Sourav Saha (WR 111).

Ghosh had teamed up with NG wing Nam of Hong Kong to win the mixed doubles bronze at the World Junior Championships in Bratislava, Slovak Republic last year.
    
The team also had a good showing in the Asian Juniors in New Delhi earlier this year, where the field had world-beaters from China, Japan and Taipei.
    
Also at the ITTF Indian Open in Dehra Dun, the country claimed eight out of 10 titles with Ghosh and Desai finishing winner and runners-up respectively in the junior boys category.

Coach Kamlesh Mehta exuded confidence of a good performance by the players.
    
"All are in good shape and frame of mind. They know the field at Bahrain well and are prepared to meet the challenge. The training and some competitions have helped them hone their skills further," he said before the team's departure to Manama from Sweden.


"I am sure they will put their best foot forward. I expect the boys to finish on the podium."

The boys have done well throughout the year and in the ITTF Global Junior Circuit Boys Points standings, Ghosh is ranked fourth and Harmeet eighth.

This is the first time that both the boys and girls teams have qualified for the world junior team championships. Last year, only the boys' team had qualified.
    
Kamlesh said the boys' team is ranked fifth in the world while the girls are 12th and it would be a good chance for them to perform at the highest stage.
   
"For the boys it's a great opportunity and being ranked fifth means they are that much closer to the podium as well as have some extra responsibility. They do realise that and it will help them at Bahrain," said the coach.

The girls team would be led by Manika Batra, who is ranked 37 in the world, along with Mallika Bhandarkar (WR 118), Ankita Das (WR 87) and Reeth Rishya (WR 160).
    
TTFI secretary general Dhanraj Choudhary was confident the boys would at least reach the semifinals.

"We have a good chance of at least reaching the semis. Of course it depends on the draw. If we face Korea or France, we can hope to reach the semis but China or Japan would be difficult as they have some world class players," Dhanraj said.

"I am sure the boys will come with a medal this time but it could be a little difficult for the girls," added Choudhary.

Choudhary said the training stint at the Peter Karlsson Academy seems to have done a world of good for them before the world championships.
   
"Our boys are ranked at 25th and 26th and are in good form. They had a good training at Sweden and I am sure it will reflect in their performance," he said.

(Agencies)