Indian men gun for glory at Badminton Asia Team Championships

The Indian men’s team had won bronze in 2016 and bowed out in the quarters in 2018, so they will look to improve on those performances this time around.

By Rahul Venkat ·

Indian badminton players B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth and promising youngster Lakshya Sen will headline their nation’s charge at the Badminton Asia Team Championships 2020, which gets underway in Manila, Philippines on February 11.

The other singles men’s representatives for India will be HS Prannoy and Subhankar Dey with the new age star pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty to lead the doubles challenge along with the team of Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun.

Several members of the Indian badminton contingent have been in good form in recent times. B Sai Praneeth led the Bengaluru Raptors to a second-consecutive Premier Badminton League title as Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty and Dhruv Kapila made it to the semi-finals with their respective teams.

The Indian badminton players will face Malaysia and Kazakhstan in a redrawn Group B after China and Hong Kong withdrew from the tournament.

"No complaints. This is a better draw for us although it will be a tough tie against Malaysia in the group for the top spot," India coach Siyadath Ullah told Badminton Asia.

"In the first draw, we had champions Indonesia. Now, I believe we even have a chance of topping the group," Ullah continued.

India will have to finish in the top two to advance to the quarter-finals. The tournament will also act as the Asian qualifiers for the Thomas Cup in May, with the semi-finalists handed a spot at the BWF event.

No Indian women’s team at Manila

This edition will see India only sending a men’s contingent to the event after the women’s team withdrew following the coronavirus outbreak.

“Unforeseen health hazard apprehensions due to the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in the withdrawal of the women’s team for the upcoming Badminton Asia Championships,” the Badminton Association of India (BAI) reasoned in its statement.

The BAI had picked a young women’s team with the likes of Ashmita Chaliha, Aakarshi Kashyap, Malvika Bansod and Ashwini Bhat set to get some international exposure after Olympic medallists PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal opted out in order to prepare for the 2020 Olympics.

India's PV Sindhu.

Schedule and fixtures for Badminton Asia Team Championships 2020

The Indian badminton players will begin their Badminton Asia Team Championships campaign against Kazakhstan on February 11 and their tougher fixture will come against Malaysia on February 13.

If they finish amongst the top two, they will play the quarter-finals on February 14.

Why Badminton Asia Team Championships are important for 2020 Olympics

Any tournament in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020 will serve as important preparation for the Indian badminton players and the tournament will serve as a good test against quality opposition for Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy after their absence at the Premier Badminton League.

The duo have not started the year well with early exits at the Indonesia Masters and Malaysia Masters and a medal at the event will be a shot in the arm.