India’s chances at the Thomas Cup: Doubles players will have to step up
Since all the national sides have been announced for the Thomas Cup, we can now undertake an analysis of the possibilities of India getting into the knockout round. Let’s look at India’s squad for the tournament. For convenience, I have marked the current world ranking of each player.
Squad: K. Srikanth (18), P. Kashyap (21), R.M.V. Gurusaidutt (30), Sourabh Varma (35), B. Sai Praneeth (51), Manu Attri (46 – doubles), B. Sumeeth Reddy (46 – doubles), Pranaav Jerry Chopra (49 – doubles), Akshay Dewalkar (49 – doubles) and Arun Vishnu (78 – doubles).
To reach into the knockout round India must register two wins in the group stage. India is bracketed with Germany, Korea and Malaysia in group ‘C’. This group can also be called the group of death.
India’s first tie is against mighty Malaysia, which has a strong claim on the Cup with a team consisting of king of badminton Lee Chong Wei (1) and other promising names like Chong Wei Feng (27), Liew Daren (66) and the experienced players like Goh Soon (135).
If we look at the head-to-head records, the Malaysian team is way ahead, and they also have high-ranked doubles players. It will be a tough task to clinch three points against Malaysian as the Indian team is not very strong in doubles with no big name featuring in its squad. The team would be more than happy to register two wins out of the five games in the tie against the Malaysian team.
India’s second tie is against the Korean team which has two quality players in singles and formidable pairs in doubles. For India to reach the quarters they will have to upset the World No. 9 Son Wan Ho. The other contenders in singles, Lee Dong Keun (32), should not be too tough a cookie for Indian shuttlers. Again, points from doubles would be near-impossible as the World No. 4 and World No. 10 players are present in the Korean team.
India’s third tie is against the German team which has Marc Zwiebler (13) and other good players in both singles and doubles. Here too the doubles players are ranked well ahead of Indian players. Therefore the onus will be on the singles players to upset Marc to win this tie.
While the Indian team consists of good promising players ranked inside the top 30 and a bunch of low-ranked doubles players, all the three opponent teams are studded with high-ranked players and some good double pairs. There are two possible way to reach to quarters”
1. The Indian team would have to upset the high-ranked singles player. This task is pretty possible against the Korean and German teams considering India has former World No. 6 Kashyap and the man in form Srikanth. India’s performance would depend on the performance of these players against the Korean and German teams.
2. India’s double players have to show some resistance against the higher-ranked players and if possible cause an upset or two in the six opportunities with three ties ahead of them. A single win in doubles would confer the three points for the Indian squad. With the advantage of home condition this task seems difficult, but not impossible.