India takes on Chinese Taipei in Sudirman Cup
New Delhi: The Indian team, sans experienced doubles player V Diju, will clash with a strong Chinese Taipei in its tournament-opener in Group C of Sudirman Cup badminton tournament in Quingdao, China on Sunday.
India is one of the top 12 teams in level one in this edition after being promoted in 2009 following their resounding campaign in Guangzhou but the country would have a
tough task at hand when they cross swords with the higher- ranked opponents in the competition.
World number four Saina Nehwal is one of the formidable players of the Indian team, which is missing one of their most trusted player in Diju, who is recovering after undergoing a minor back injury.
While P Kashyap, ranked number 28, is likely to lead the charge in men`s singles, a lot would depend on experienced shuttler Jwala Gutta who will have to pull off the women`s doubles match with Ashwini Ponnappa.
"They (Chinese Taipei and Thailand) are not the toughest teams but at the same time we can`t underestimate them. It would be very important to pull one of the doubles matches. If we can top the group and play the quarterfinals, it would be great," Jwala said.
"We did well in last edition and we are in the top-12 teams, which is a great achievement. We have to be positive and think about pulling out one match at a time and unite as a team and everything is possible," she added.
Indian shuttlers Saina and Kashyap are higher-ranked than their Chinese Taipei counterparts and would hope to pull off the men`s and women`s singles match.
But in world number six Chieh Min Fang and Sheng Mu Lee, Chinese Taipei have a potent men`s doubles combo while their women`s doubles pair of Wen Hsing Cheng and Yu Chin Chien are ranked number two in the world.
Chinese Taipei`s mixed doubles pair of Hung Ling Chen and Wen Hsing Cheng are also ranked 12th in the world and it would be a tough task for the inexperienced pair of Pranav Chopra and Prajakta Sawant, who are likely to be chosen over Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan, to get across the duo.
"We will be missing Diju in the mixed doubles event. Though we have two good pairs, who are playing for last four years, they lack international exposure. I hope they fare well for India," Jwala said.
In the men`s doubles, Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas will spearhead Indian challenge.
There are four groups of countries in the Sudirman Cup. Group 1 has 12 countries which are further divided into four sub-groups in a round robin competition.
Each country vies to come top of their group, and only 12 countries in Group 1 have a shot at the trophy.
The top eight countries will play the knockout stage, where once one country wins three rubbers the tie gets over.
India will take on Thailand on Monday in their second tie.