India will face China, Thailand and Finland in Group A of the competition.
The 17th edition of the prestigious biennial tournament, Sudirman Cup 2021 is all set to take place between 26th September and 3rd October. Originally set to be held in Suzhou, China, it will now happen in Vantaa, Finland amid COVID-19 concerns. The tournament will be contested between 16 mixed national teams of different BWF member associations. The Sudirman Cup tie is composed of five categories namely men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
All Indian shuttlers will look forward to competing in the first international tournament post the Tokyo Olympics. However, a tough draw lies ahead for them in Group A. India will face defending champions China, three-time semi-finalists Thailand, and the host country Finland in the group stage. Further, the top two teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the quarterfinals of the mixed team championship.
Tough Challenge for India
China have been most successful team at the Sudirman Cup, winning 11 titles in total. They will use the opportunity to consolidate their position and seek a 12th crown. Meanwhile, India will face a tough challenge from fifth seeds Thailand, who have managed to reach the semi-finals three times. Both India and Finland are seeded in the 9-16 bracket. Therefore, India have a strong chance to win against the hosts but will face a serious challenge from the other two countries.
The Indian team has already left for Finland and will look forth to yielding their best performance in the tournament. Incidentally, India failed to qualify for the 2019 Sudirman Cup. Previously, the country registered its best performances in the 2011 and 2017 editions, where the team managed to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament. Therefore, it will be exciting to witness what this edition brings forth for the Indian contingent.
India Vs Thailand -26th September
India will first contest against three-time semi-finalists Thailand in the Sudirman Cup group stage. It should be a neck-to-neck contest. Though Ratchanok Intanon will be absent, she will be replaced by Busanan Ongbamrungphan, Pornpawee Chochuwong, and Phittayaporn Chaiwan in the women’s singles category.
Moreover, Thailand has a stronghold in other categories as well. However, India must win against Thailand to avoid early elimination from the competition.
India Vs China – 27th September
India will face the toughest challenge against defending Sudirman Cup champions China in their second match of the group stage. While reigning Olympic champion Chen Yufei will lead the women’s singles, Shi Yuqi will lead the men’s singles in the absence of Chen Long. Moreover, Lu Guang Zu, Li Shi Feng, He Bing Jiao and Wang Zhi Yi, Liu Cheng, Feng Yan Zhe, He Ji Ting, and Tan Qiang have also been named in the Chinese squad.
Therefore, the Indian shuttlers will have to give their best for a formidable win against the defending champions.
India Vs Finland – 29th September
The Indian team holds a strong chance to win against the Sudirman Cup 2021 hosts, Finland. Therefore, this is something that the Indian shuttlers should not miss otherwise, there will be slim chances for the team to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Players to watch out for
Sai Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth will lead the men’s singles for the country. They are both experienced players and a lot will depend on their performances.
Further, the duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will lead the women’s doubles event. Therefore, these are India’s strongest players, as others are junior players who would be playing in their maiden Sudirman Cup.
Indian Squad for the Sudirman Cup 2021
The BAI(Badminton Association of India) announced a 12-member squad for the upcoming mixed team championship.
Men: B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth, Dhruv Kapila, MR Arjun
Women: Malvika Bansod, Aditi Bhatt, Tanisha Crasto, Rutuparna Panda, Ashwini Ponnappa, N Sikki Reddy
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have recently withdrawn from the tournament amid medical concerns. Therefore, the onus of men’s doubles would be now on Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun.
Where to Watch
The Sudirman Cup 2021 will be telecast live on Star Sports 2 and will be exclusively streamed on Disney+ Hotstar.
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