Sindhu and Lakshya lead India’s medal quest to Thomas and Uber Cup final | badminton news


BANGKOK: The focus will be on two-time Olympic medalist PV Sindhu and World Championships bronze medalist Lakshya Sen as India’s badminton contingent resume their quest for a medal at the Thomas and Uber Cup final in leave by Sunday.
No Indian men’s team has ever won a medal in the Thomas Cup, having failed to reach the semi-final just once.
But the women have had two semi-finals in successive editions of the Uber Cup to clinch two bronze medals in 2014 and 2016.
Last year, the men’s and women’s teams signed their campaign in the quarter-finals.
This time, India boasts of having a strong men’s team consisting of world number 9 Sen, world number 11 Kidambi Srikanth and world number 23 HS Prannoy in singles.
The doubles will be led by the world number 9 pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, while the combination of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, and that of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala are also part of the team.
With a strong squad and a favorable draw, the Indian men will be looking to capitalize on the golden opportunity as they open the campaign against Germany in Group C which also includes Chinese Taipei and Canada.
The women’s team, however, has been depleted following the withdrawals of the experienced doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa and the fast-rising Gayatri Gopichand.
Both Sikki and Gayatri are injured and have been advised to rest.
In their absence, the blame will fall on future doubles players such as Tanisha Crasto, Shruti Mishra, Simran Singhi, Ritika Thaker and Treesa Jolly.
In women’s singles, world number 7 Sindhu will have to do the heavy lifting while the other two singles players Aakarshi Kashyap and youngster Unnati Hooda lack experience but will look to put on a good show. They had made the team after a rigorous selection test.
With the absence of some key players, it will be difficult for the women’s team to beat Group D members South Korea, Canada and the United States and win a medal.
According to the format, a total of 16 teams were split into four groups of four, with the top two teams advancing to the knockout stage.
Of all the Group C members, the Indian men will face the toughest competition from Chinese Taipei, which boasts world number 4 Chou Tien Chen, in addition to world number 3 in doubles consisting of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin.
For the women, Korea will be a tough competitor, with world number 4 An Seyoung, world number 19 Kim Gaeun and world number 46 Sim Yujin, while Michelle Li is the best player for Canada, who could prove to be a delicate customer.
Defending champions Indonesia are the most successful team in the Thomas Cup with 14 men’s titles, while China have 15 Uber Cup crowns in their prize pool.
“We have the best chance of winning the Thomas Cup this time. We’ve got three decent singles and a pair of doubles tied with the best and we just have to make sure they’re all pumped up, they’re all capable of beating the best. “ex-Indian coach Vimal Kumar told PTI.
“I can understand, it’s difficult for the women’s team but the men’s team has a good chance.”

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