For the next three days the medal contenders in Commonwealth badminton will be looking, quite ironically, for some serious practice against those making up the numbers. The early stage of the team event also allows the big teams to take a close look at their prospective rivals for battles ahead when the action begins at the Siri Fort Complex here on Monday.
Second seeded India, expected to ease past Kenya, Barbados, Wales and a fairly formidable Scotland in Group ‘D' for a place in the quarterfinals, is likely to use the league phase to test and rest its players.
The mixed team event, played on a best-of-five-matches format, gives India quite a few options, with World No.3 Saina Nehwal and an improving Aditi Mutatkar taking turns to win their singles.
Similarly, bronze medallist in the previous edition Chetan Anand and P. Kashyap will be expected to play their roles to perfection, as and when they get an opportunity.
In good form
Saina, tipped to give India a gold medal in the singles once the event opens on October 9, has justified her top seeding in three successive events this year. In fact, it was at the same venue here that Saina defeated Malaysian Mew Choo Wong, seeded two here during the Asian championship this summer.
Before their much-anticipated clash in the final, Saina could well face some testing times against lesser-known opponents.
In the league stages, considering the feeble opposition, India can easily wrap the job on hand up with the variety of resources it has in the three doubles.
As things appear at present, top seed Malaysia looks a notch above the rest and opens as a firm favourite. With the services of men's World No.1 Chong, Wei Lee, women's World No.19 Mew Choo Wong and the men's doubles World No.1 pair of Kien Keat Koo and Boon Heong Tan, Malaysia carries far too much ammunition for its rivals.
Eventually, Singapore and New Zealand from group ‘B', and England and Canada from group ‘C' are the other teams which are likely to join Malaysia , Australia, India and Scotland in the last-eight stage.
The groups: Group ‘A': Malaysia, Australia, Nigeria, Seychelles and Isle of Man. Group ‘B': Singapore, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Jamaica and Northern Ireland. Group ‘C': England, Canada, Mauritius, Uganda and Falkland Islands. Group ‘D': India, Scotland, Wales, Barbados and Kenya.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games 2010