Saina to spearhead Indian challenge

Saina to spearhead Indian challenge

Saina to spearhead Indian challenge

World No. 3 badminton player Saina Nehwal, who is 20, poses with twenty 24-carat gold coins, during a felicitation function in New Delhi on Tuesday. Her coach Pullela Gopichand is also seen. PTI

The nine-member squad includes Aditi Mutatkar, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa, Chetan Anand, Parupalli Kashyap, Sanave Thomas, V. Diju and Rupesh Kumar.
Pullela Gopichand will be the chief coach.

Announcing the squad, Badminton Association of India president V.K.Verma hoped that Saina, the youngest Indian captain, will inspire the team to perform well. Saina, who is World No. 3, said she will not be under pressure.

"Badminton is an individual game. Each one is responsible for himself. We have strong players. I have followed their performance in the Singapore Open. Everyone is on the same wavelength. I will focus on my game and ensure that I do well," Saina told reporters here.

"It is just the playing environment which will be different in the World Championships. I will have my team cheering for me and I, in turn, will be there for them," he said.

Saina, who last month won three titles in as many weeks, including two Super Series events, was felicitated by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and national team sponsor Premier Brands for her achievement here Tuesday. She was presented 20 gold coins, synonymous with her age. Premier Brands chairman Suresh Kumar said they will be presenting 101 gold coins to Saina if she performs well in the World Championships.

Saina lost in the quarterfinals of the World Championships at Hyderabad last year.