Top players Kidambi Srikanth, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal have been named in the 20-member squad that will travel to Denmark for the Thomas and Uber Cup. The tournament will be held from October 3 to 11.
While the Thomas Cup is the official world team championship for men, the Uber Cup is the women’s equivalent. India have never won either the Thomas or Uber Cup, a biennial event.
Former world No. 1 and four Superseries title winner Kidambi Srikanth will spearhead India’s challenge in the Thomas Cup. He will be accompanied by 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Parupalli Kashyap and emerging star Lakshya Sen among others.
The 2019 World Championship bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth will miss the Thomas Cup due to an injury.
India’s No. 1 men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy do not feature in the squad either. Rankireddy is currently at home recovering from COVID-19,
Saina Nehwal will be joined by PV Sindhu in the Uber Cup. Sindhu decided to make herself available following Badminton Association of India president Himanta Biswa Sarma’s request. Indian women have twice (2014 and 2016) made the semi-finals of the Uber Cup.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will be India’s first choice for the doubles event. The duo will use this chance to sharpen themselves for the upcoming Olympic qualification period in early 2021.
While the men are clubbed alongside 2016 champions Denmark, Germany and Alegria in Group C of the Thomas Cup, Indian eves will have to compete against China, Germany and France in Group D of the Uber Cup. China, however, is yet to confirm participation.
PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy have also been named as India’s participants for the two BWF Super 750 events in Denmark.
They will be held right after the Thomas and Uber Cup with the Denmark Open to run from October 13 to 18 and Denmark Masters from October 20 to 25.
Preparatory camp cancelled
A preparatory camp for the Thomas and Uber Cup in Hyderabad, which was slated to start on September 7, has been called off.
This is because the mandatory quarantine period for the badminton players would have only ended on September 17, the day on which the squad was to be announced.
"All actions, decisions and policies being drawn out during the pandemic are guided by the principle of ensuring safety of players," said sports science consultant Col. Dr Bibhu Kalyan Nayak, a member of the committee that drafted COVID protocols for the Sports Authority of India. "Our athletes are our national assets and their safety is of utmost importance."
BAI secretary Ajay Singhania added, "With the Standard Operating Practices (SOP) implemented and quarantine procedures followed, there will not be enough time to conduct a camp and hence it was a decision taken in consultation with the five selectors and the national coach (Gopichand)."
The players named in the 20-member squad will have to submit fitness certificates by September 17 and will have to train on their own during the period. BAI has to be kept updated regularly on their fitness and training status.
Full Indian badminton squad:
Thomas Cup: Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, Lakshya Sen, Subhankar Dey, Siril Verma, Manu Attri, B. Sumeeth Reddy, MR Arjun, Dhruv Kapila, Krishna Prasad Garaga
Uber Cup: PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Aakarshi Kashyap, Malvika Bansod, Ashwini Ponnappa, N. Sikki Reddy, Pooja Dandu, Sanjana Santosh, Poorvisha S. Ram, Jakkampudi Meghana
Denmark Open and Denmark Masters: Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal, Lakshya Sen, Ashwini Ponnappa, PV Sindhu, N. Sikki Reddy.