India face daunting task

India's Saina Nehwal will lead a young women's team in the Uber Cup. AFP FILE PHOTO

A depleted but young team, led by Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy, will face the arduous task of punching above their weight when they compete in the Thomas and Uber Cup Final starting here from Sunday.

With senior such as world no 3 P V Sindhu and world no 4 Kidambi Srikanth being rested, Saina and Prannoy will be the only star attractions at the world team championships, where the women's team won two bronze medals in the last two editions. Their men counterparts have failed to make it to the knockout stage in last eight years.

Besides world No 9 Prannoy, the men’s team boasts of Singapore Open champion B Sai Praneeth, Swiss Open winner Sameer Verma and world No 10 (junior rankings) Lakshay Sen in the singles.

National champion pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy and the young combo of Arjun MR and Shlok Ramachandran will have to handle the responsibility in doubles.

India have been clubbed with France, Australia and the formidable China in Group 'A' of Thomas Cup and Prannoy and co know they have to be on their toes when they open their campaign against France on Sunday.

"France is not an easy team. Brice Leverdez and Lucas Corvee are good. If we beat France we are through to quarterfinal and then we can sit and plan. If we get a good team such as Indonesia or Korea, we have good chance in singles," he added.

With Commonwealth Games silver medallists doubles pair of Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty not in the team, the country's campaign will largely depend on the three singles matches.

The women's team, on the other hand, have been placed along side Canada, Australia and heavyweights Japan in Group 'A' and they would need to bring out their best to finish in top two and make it to the quarterfinals.

The women's team is more depleted and inexperienced as apart from Sindhu, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallists pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy too couldn't make it to the team with the latter being diagnosed with Typhoid a couple of weeks back.

While Saina is expected to pull off her matches, it would be a tall ask for 16-year-old Vaishnavi Jakka Reddy, world No 64 Sai Krishna Priya and Anura Prabhu Desai and Vaishanavi Bhale to outshine their opponents in the singles match, especially against Japan and Canada.

The doubles combination of Prajakta Sawant/Sanyogita Ghorpade and Poorvisha S Ram/Meghana J too will have to produce something special to salvage any hopes of a win against their formidable opponents such as Japan.

 

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India face daunting task

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