Kunshan (China): After clinching a historic bronze medal in the last edition, the Indian women’s team, led by Saina Nehwal, will eye another good show but it will be an uphill task for the depleted men’s team at the Thomas and Uber Cup badminton tournament starting here tomorrow.
Indian women had reached the quarterfinal for the first time at the 2010 Uber Cup in Kuala Lumpur but it was only in 2014 in New Delhi when they clinched their maiden bronze after going down 2-3 to five-time champions Japan in their maiden semifinals appearance.
Indian women’s team have been clubbed with 2014 runners-up
Japan, Australia and Germany and once again the onus will be on Rio-bound shuttlers Saina and P V Sindhu to earn them wins in the two singles. The choice of the third singles player will be among Ruthvika Shivani Gadde, Tanvi Lad and P C Thulasi.
In a format comprising of three singles and two doubles, once again it will be 2010 Commonwealth Games champions Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa — both have booked their Rio berth — who will carry the responsibility. Besides, there will be N Sikki Reddy and K Maneesha for the second doubles.
Indian women will face Australia in their campaign opener on Monday, before taking on Germany and the formidable Japan in the next two days respectively.
In Thomas Cup competition, Ajay Jayaram will spearhead the Indian challenge while World No. 12 K Srikanth gave it a miss and H S Prannoy was left nursing a foot injury.
In their absence, the onus will be on B Sai Praneeth, national champion Sameer Verma and his elder brother Sourabh to step up and take responsibility in the three singles.