Alor Setar, Malaysia: The road to Uber Cup Finals would be a difficult one for Indian women shuttlers, who have been handed a tough draw at the Asia Team championship but the men's team got an easier deal at the prestigious tournament to be held from February 6 to 11.
Asia Team Championship serves as a qualifier for Thomas and Uber Cup Finals, which will be held at Bangkok from May 20 to 27.
The Indian women's team has been clubbed with formidable Japan and Hong Kong China in Group W, while the men's team was put along with Indonesia, Philippines and Maldives in Group D.
Both the men's and women's team events will be decided on three singles and two doubles and the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has fielded a formidable line-up for this year's edition, hoping that India qualifies for the prestigious tournament.
With no clarity Saina Nehwal's participation, Olympic silver-medallist P V Sindhu will lead the singles charge for the women's team, onus would be on World No.3 Kidambi Srikanth and World No. 10 HS Prannoy to lead the men's team.
Saina has sought an exemption from the event to prepare for the All England Championships but BAI is trying to convince her otherwise.
Krishna Priya and Ruthvika Gaade have also been named in the women's team, while Singapore Open champion Sai Praneeth and Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold winner Sameer Verma will be the back-up players in men's singles.
While the men's doubles contingent will include the prodigious pairing of Satwik Sairaj and Chirag Shetty, world No.32 Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy and Shlok Ramachandran and MR Arjun, the women's doubles comprises Ashwini Ponappa and Sikki Reddy, besides Prajakta Sawant and Sanyogita and Rituparna Das and Mithila UK.
It will be an uphill task for India as Japan's team comprises World No 2 Akane Yamaguchi and world champion Nozomi Okuhara.
They also have the formidable World No 2 doubles combo of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi and world no 4 Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in their ranks.
Men's Team Draw
Group A: China, Hong Kong, Singapore
Group B: Japan, Korea, Nepal, Kazakhstan
Group C: Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar
Group D: Indonesia, India, Philippines, Maldives
Women's Team Draw
Group W: Japan, India, Hong Kong
Group X: Korea Chinese Taipei, Maldives
Group Y: Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines
Group Z: China, Indonesia, Singapore