Srikanth, Sindhu and Saina Carry India's hopes at 2018 Badminton Asia Championships
India will go into the 38th edition of Badminton Asia Championships, that begins on April 24, with an 18-player strong contingent.
The Badminton Asia Championships is being held in the city of Wuhan, China from April 24 (Tuesday) to April 29 (Sunday). Wuhan also hosted the Championships three times from 2015 to 2017.
300 shuttlers from 20 countries and regions across Asia are taking part in the championships this year.
Last year, India returned empty-handed from Wuhan as none of the shuttlers could make past the quarterfinals in April 2017.
India's challenge to other Asian nations looks formidable in Men's singles and Women's Singles.
A total of four shuttlers (Kidambi Srikanth, HS Pranoy, Sameer Verma and Sai Praneeth) will represent India in the Men'singles, K.Srikanth being the pick among the four.
Kidambi Srikanth has won Silver medal Men's Singles at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games 2018, going down to former world number 1 Lee Chong Wei in a hard-fought Gold Medal match. Srikanth is seeded number one for the tournament and will play japan's K. Nishimoto in round 1.
He might get a chance to avenge the Gold Coast defeat against Lee Chong Wei in the quarterfinals, assuming no upsets take place.
Others Indian to took for in this event will be HS Pranoy, who missed out on CWG Bronze medal. Last year, the world no. 12 had an early exit from the tournament losing to Hong Kong's Ng Ka Long in the first round itself.
India fans will expect that Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu bring their Commonwealth Games form to China. The withdrawl of World Number 1 Anane Yamaguchi from the tournament makes it easier for the CWG 2018 Women's Singles finalists to clinch the title.
The only possible threat seems to be number 1 seed Tai Tzu-Ying, who enjoys a better record against both. In the first round match, PV Sindhu faces Pai Y-p of Chinese Taipei, whereas Saina will face a qualifier.
Sindhu and Saina could be joined by Ruthvika Shivani Gadde and Krishna Priya Kudaravalli, if they manage to qualify for the main draw.
Men's Doubles(MD), Women's Doubles(WD) and Mixed Doubles(XD)
5 Indian Doubles Pairs (MD-1, WD-2 and XD-2) will contest in qualifiers to qualify for the main draw.
M. Attri/B.S Reddy and Arjun M.R/R Shlok will battle out in the Men's Doubles Category.
In Women's Doubles, the pairs of M. Jakkampudi/PS Ram and A Balan/Sruthi KP will represent India. They will face the Indonesian pair of Awnda and Istarani.
Whereas in Mixed Doubles ,the sole Indian pair to be present in the main draw will be VG Prasad and Juhi Dewangan. Prasad and Juhi play their first match against Lee CH and Chau HW of Hong Kong.
The Indian shuttlers' real test begins with this championship. The players need to set up to the occasion and aim to end India's drought at Asian stage.
A repeat of the Commonwealth Games performance is unlikely in the presence of Asian giants like China, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia, and winning at least two titles would be considered a great achievement.
The championship will serve as a testing ground for the prestigious Asian Games and will give some idea as to what to expect in August 2018 in Indonesia.