Pakistan are among the 12 countries which will not take part in the 20th Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships that begins in Surat from December 16. (Sharath Kamal Reaches No 32 in World Table Tennis Rankings)
Dhanraj Choudhary, secretary general at the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI, confirmed the absence of Pakistan as well as of another prominent nation, Australia.
"Pakistan did not communicate its interest to participate in the competition. It is the end of the year and federations of most countries are facing a fund crunch during this time. That is the reason why Australia is also not coming. However, the toughest competitors of India will as usual be Singapore and England," Choudhary told PTI from Surat while ruing the timing of the event.
The Championships, originally scheduled for October, had to pushed to December due to local municipal election.
In a major setback for the hosts, India's highest-ranked player Sharath Kamal, has suffered a freak accident in Germany and will not be taking part in the biennial competition. The World No 71 met with a car accident earlier in the week, a day before he was supposed to return home for the Commonwealth Championships, said Choudhary. He plays for German club Borussia Dusseldorf.
Sharath, who dropped out of top-50 after undergoing a hip surgery earlier in theÂ year, said he is getting better and is likely to recover in a month's time.
He made history in 2004 when he became the first Indian to win gold in the Championships besides guiding his team to victory. He also won gold in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, besides winning men's doubles gold twice alongside Subhajit Saha, one in the 2009 Commonwealth Championships in Glasgow followed by another one at home during the Delhi Games in 2010.
The previous Commonwealth Championships was also held in India, where the home team ended with nine medals in the event held in New Delhi, but failed to win a gold. Barring women's singles, the other six gold medals on offer went to Singapore.
In the absence of Sharath, the Indian challenge will be spearheaded by Soumyajit Ghosh, who broke into the top-100 this month.