Shah Alam (Malaysia): India’s Young Badminton Brigade, Led by World Championship Bronze Medalist Lakshya Seno and Malvika Bansod in form, will try to put on a good show in the Badminton Asia Team Championships starting here on Tuesday.
The Indian men’s and women’s teams will be eager to get off to a winning start as they take on Korea and the host nation Malaysia in Group A and Group Y respectively on the opening day of the continental championship.
With the seniors skipping the event, the responsibility lies with India Open winner Sen to lead the men’s team. Kiran George and Mithun Manjunath are also likely to play a pivotal role in the tournament where the men’s team has been clubbed with three-time defending champions Indonesia and Hong Kong, excluding Korea.
Kiran had won his first world tour crown when he claimed the Odisha Super 100 title, while Manjunath had reached the semifinals of Syed Modi Super 300. Raghu Mariswamy is the fourth singles player.
In doubles, Ravikhrisna PS and Sankar Prasad Udayakumar, finalists in Odisha last month, and Manjit Singh Khwairakpam and Dingku Singh Konthoujam, who reached the semi-finals at Bahrain’s international match last year, are hoping for a good performance.
Korea is also not a big name and the team will be led by Jeon Hyeok Jin, who was part of the team that claimed the gold at the 2014 Asian Games and reached the quarter-finals at the Thomas Cup last year.
In the women’s event, the Indian team, made up of Syed Modi International finalist Malvika, Aakarshi Kashyap and Ashmita Chaliha, will take its chances when it takes Malaysia and defending champions Japan into Group B at the continental event.
For Malaysia, the world’s No. 64 Kisona Selvaduray is their top singles player, while Tan Pearly and World No. 15 Thinaah Muralitharan will be responsible for helping the team win in the doubles matches.
Teams finishing in the first two positions in each group of both the men’s and women’s events will reach the last four and also qualify for the Thomas Cup final in Bangkok on May 17-22.
The Indian men’s team had won bronze twice, but the women’s team had never returned with a medal of the tournament.
Lakshya was part of the team that claimed bronze in the 2020 edition after losing to Indonesia in the semi-finals.
Dinesh Khanna is still the only Indian player to have won the gold medal at the 1965 Asian Badminton Championship.
In the individual event, India also won 11 bronze medals.
The championships lost some luster with the withdrawal of Thailand, Chinese Taipei and China amid concerns over the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
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