Sindhu back from injury to lead women’s team championship

The women’s team, led by Sindhu, got the rub of green as China is the only other team in Group W and India are thus already assured of a knockout berth

PV Sindhu

Eastern Eye

THOMAS CUP champions India will look to recreate magic when they chase the elusive crown at the Badminton Asia Team Championships, which will mark the return of double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu from injury.

The Indian men’s team, which lifted the Thomas Cup in 2022 and secured a first-ever silver medal at last year’s Asian Games, will look to go all the way in the continental event this week after finishing with bronze medals in the 2016 and 2018 editions.

The Indian men’s team will face the formidable China and Hong Kong in its group A league matches. However, India, led by HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen and in-form doubles pair of Satwik sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, will back themselves to finish in the top two and make it to the knockout stage.

The women’s team, led by Sindhu, got the rub of green as China is the only other team in Group W and India are thus already assured of a knockout berth. The women’s team will depend on Sindhu and the two doubles pairs – Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Treesa Jolly-Gayatri Gopichand and Guwahati Masters 2023 champions Ashwini Ponnappa-Tanisha Crasto to provide them the push.

For Sindhu, the event assumes extra significance as she will look to test her match fitness and re gain confidence after being out since October last year.

The 28-year-old had suffered a knee injury at the French Open and took some time to regain her fitness and then shifted base to Bengaluru to train under Prakash Padukone at PPBA.

The continental competition will also be important for the players as it offers valuable qualification points in the race to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Focus will also be on the young and second string Indian players such as Thailand Open super 300 semi-finalist Ashmita Chaliya, 16-year-old senior national champion Anmol Kharb and Badminton Asia Junior Championships medallist Tanvi Sharma, who are aiming to make their mark on the grand stage.

India was set to begin their campaign on Wednesday with the men’s team taking on Hong Kong and the women’s team facing China at the Setia City Convention Centre here.

While Hong Kong men boast of two solid singles players in World No. 18 Lee Cheuk Yiu and World No. 22 Ng Ka Long Angus, they lack a decent doubles pair and India is expected to get across their opponents.

The same can’t be said about their women’s counterparts. China won’t have the presence of Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei in their ranks but the likes of World No. 8 Han Yue, World No. 9 Wang Zhi Yi and World No. 15 Zhang Yi Man could prove a handful for Chaliha and Kharb. China will also be without their top doubles pair but World No. 4 Liu Sheng Shu and Tan Ning will be tough opponents.