Members of the tennikoit team in Jamshedpur on Thursday. (Bhola Prasad)
Jharkhand is keen to make amends in the upcoming East Zone Tennikoit Championship that is scheduled to be held in Cuttack from September 23 to 25.
The state women’s team, which came agonisingly close to bagging the tennikoit title in the last zonal meet in Patna, is pumped up and ready to take on their Odisha, Bengal and Tripura rivals for the cup this year. The men’s team, too, would like to survive as long as possible in the tournament from which they had been knocked out in the very league stage last season.
Officials of the Jharkhand Tennikoit Association (JTA), who announced a 10-member squad for the upcoming Cuttack zonal tournament on Thursday morning, too believed that the players had it in them to seize the gauntlet and rise to the occasion this year.
“We have picked a strong team based on the performance of players during a weeklong camp held at Gopal Maidan last week. All those who have been named in the squad have been picked purely on merit. We are sure they will come up with an improved performance at Cuttack,” general secretary of JTA Ali Raza Khan told The Telegraph.
He added that the state women had missed the top slot by a whisker last season and were raring to go this season and finish on top.
“The players are confident and we are sure that they will give their best. The women’s team will aim for the top slot this season,” Khan said.
Khan said the mens’ outfit being knocked out in the league stage last season’s championship had finished third.
“This year, however, we have changed things and come up with a young team. The players are swift and nimble-footed and are ready to take on the challenges that come their way during the championship,” Khan said.
The mens’ team announced by JTA president S.R.A. Rizvi Chabban includes the names of Md Nizam (captain), Vijay Mukhi, Md Naseem, Md Usman and Basant Kumar.
The womens’ team will comprise D. Hemlata (captain), Soni Kumari, Annu Kumari, Saraswati Das and Sneha Kumari.
Barring Vijay and Basant, who are from Ranchi and Bokaro, rest of the players in the mens’ and womens’ team are from Jamshedpur.
Md Sajjad and Md Shahabuddin have been appointed as the coach and manager of the team, respectively.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Thursday, skipper of the mens’ outfit Nizam sounded confident of putting in an improved performance this year.
“I am happy with the team. We will try and play as a cohesive unit. We will give it our best shot,” he said.
Captain of the eves team Hemlata echoed Nizam and said that the players were well prepared.
“I am confident about my team. The weeklong camp has helped us iron out some rough edges. The preparation will keep us in good stead. We are aiming for the crown,” she said.