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Asia badminton team championship | Praneeth and co. eye medal, crucial points

Sai Praneeth.

Sai Praneeth.   | Photo Credit: AP

India will begin their campaign against Kazakhstan on Tuesday before taking on Malaysia on Thursday.

Unfazed by coronavirus fears, a full-strength Indian men’s team has landed here to compete at the Asia Team Championships from Tuesday, eyeing a medal-winning performance which will give players crucial ranking points in the Olympic year.

The Indian women team, which was supposed to be led by young shuttlers Ashmita Chaliha and Malvika Bansod, chose not to travel for the competition, fearing the spread of coronavirus, which has claimed over 900 lives in China so far.

A 44-year-old Chinese tourist from Wuhan had died on February 1 in Philippines, which has reported three virus cases so far. The two others were discharged from hospital after their tests were reported to be negative.

Former world number one Kidambi Srikanth and 2019 world championship bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth will lead the Indian team which also has HS Prannoy, Subhankar Dey and young Lakshya Sen.

The Indian men’s team, which won the bronze medal in the 2016 Championship, was initially clubbed with two-time defending champions Indonesia and hosts Philippines in Group A but with China and Hong Kong not playing due to a travel ban on them by the Philippines, the draw was re-worked at the team managers’ meeting on Monday.

India are now placed in Group B alongside Malaysia and Kazakhstan. The top two team in each of the four groups will make it to the quarterfinals.

India, who had lost to China 1-3 in the last edition in 2018, will begin their campaign against Kazakhstan on Tuesday before taking on Malaysia on Thursday. This is only the third edition of the Asia Team championship, which serves as Asia qualifiers for the Thomas and Uber Cups.

Praneeth and Co. are expected to have an easy outing against Kazakhstan, who are not a prominent badminton nation, but the clash against Malaysia will be a interesting one.

Malaysia boast of a young team, comprising world no 14 Lee Zii Jia, 2014 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Cheam June Wei and Leong Jun Hao, a former three-time silver medallist at World Junior Championships.

In doubles, Malaysia have world no 17 pair of Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi, who claimed the Thailand Masters title last month, and the pair of Goh Sze Fei and Nur Izzuddin Mohd Rumsani, who were part of 2018 Asian team Championship bronze medal winning team, in their team.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 8:25:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/asia-badminton-team-championship-praneeth-and-co-eye-medal-crucial-points/article30782403.ece

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