India have task cut out
Alor Setar (Malaysia): With H S Prannoy injured and Saina Nehwal pulling out, India will have a tough task at hand when Kidambi Srikanth and P V Sindhu lead the men's and women's teams respectively at the Asia Team Badminton Championship starting here on Tuesday.
The Asia Team Championship will also act as a qualifier for the Thomas and Uber Cup tournaments to be held in Bangkok from May 20 to 27 with the teams finishing at the semifinals qualifying for the prestigious tournament.
Indian men's team, which has been clubbed with Maldives and formidable Indonesia in Group D, will open its campaign in the tournament with a clash against Philippines tomorrow.
The onus would be on Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma to win the three singles in the absence of Prannoy, who is on way to recovery after developing corns in his feet.
The women's team will be without the services of Saina, who decided to skip the event to prepare for the All England Championship to be held from March 14 to 18 at Birmingham, and in her absence the onus would be on Sindhu and young Krishna Priya and Ruthvika Gaade to shoulder the responsibility of singles events.
It will be an uphill task as the women's team have been clubbed with heavyweight Japan and Hong Kong in Group W.
Sindhu, who finished runner-up at the India Open last night, reached Malaysia this morning and it would be interesting to see if she can recover well when India take on Hong Kong tomorrow.
The Hong Kong team has in it Cheung Ngan Yi, who beat Olympic champion Carolina Marin in the quarterfinals in India Open last week. World No. 30 Yip Pui Yin will also be in their ranks.
In the women's competition, Japan will pose the biggest challenge as they boast of World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi, world champion Nozomi Okuhara and World No. 13 Sayaka Sato.
On the other hand, Srikanth and Co. will have their task cut out against Indonesia, who have some formidable singles player in Jonatan Christie and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, who had fought at the finals of Korea Open Super Series last year.
Satwiksairajrankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who reached the semifinals at Indonesia Masters, and national champions Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy will shoulder the men's doubles responsibility.
In the women's team, Ashwini Ponappa and Sikki Reddy and Prajakta Sawant and Sanyogita will look to get the wins in doubles.