Young Indian shuttlers hunt for glory at Badminton Asia Team championships
Seeking to qualify for the Thomas & Uber Cup Finals in May, young Indian badminton stars will have the onus to deliver at the Badminton Asia Team Championships 2022.
India's young badminton brigade, led by World Championships bronze medallist Lakshya Sen and in-form Malvika Bansod, will aim to put up a good show in the Badminton Asia Team championships starting at Shah Alam, Malaysia on Tuesday.
The Indian men's and women's teams will be keen to make a winning start when they take on Korea and hosts Malaysia in group A and group Y respectively on the opening day of the continental championship.
With the seniors skipping the event, the onus will be on India Open winner Sen to lead the men's team. Kiran George and Mithun Manjunath are also likely to play pivotal roles in the tournament where the men's team has been clubbed with three-time defending champions Indonesia and Hong Kong, apart from Korea.
Kiran had won his maiden 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 at Odisha last month, and Manjit Singh Khwairakpam and Dingku Singh Konthoujam, who reached the semifinal at Bahrain international challenge last year, will hope for a good outing.
Korea also doesn't boast of any 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 quarterfinals at Thomas Cup last year.
In women's event, the Indian team, comprising Syed Modi International finalist Malvika, Aakarshi Kashyap and Ashmita Chaliha, will fancy its chances when it faces Malaysia and defending champion Japan in group B during the continental event.
For Malaysia, world number 64 Kisona Selvaduray is their top singles player, while world number 15 pair of Tan Pearly and Thinaah Muralitharan will carry the responsibility of getting the team wins in the doubles matches.
Teams finishing at the top two positions in each group of both the men's and women's events will make it to the last four and also qualify for the Thomas Cup finals in Bangkok on May 17-22.
The Indian men's team had won two bronze but the women's side had never returned with a medal from the tournament. Lakshya was part of the team which had claimed a bronze in the 2020 edition after losing to Indonesia in the semifinals. Dinesh Khanna remains the only Indian player to have won the gold medal at the Asian Badminton Championship in 1965. In the individual event, India also won 11 bronze medals.
The championships lost some sheen with the withdrawal of Thailand, Chinese Taipei and China due to concerns over rising cases of COVID-19.