Home2018E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships - Srikanth's form leaves India in suspense

E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships – Srikanth’s form leaves India in suspense

History maker K. Srikanth is the ace in the pack in the team but his form of late is certainly a cause for concern for India in next month's E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships in Alor Setar, Kedah in Malaysia.

The 24-year-old Indian created Indian badminton history as the first shuttler from the country to win four superseries titles in a season last year. Srikanth won the BCA Indonesia Open, the Australia Open, Denmark Open and the French Open which sent his rankings soar to No 2.
He was runners-up in the Singapore Open the same year when he lost to countryman B. Sai Praneeth in the final – the only time two Indians featured in a superseries final in the history of the game.

Currently ranked No 3 Srikanth played a key role at the last Badminton Asia Team Championships 2016 in Hyderabad where India won the bronze medal as the losing semi-finals. India lost 1-3 to eventual champions Indonesia. In the quarter-finals the Indians ousted Malaysia 3-2.

India may have lost to Indonesia but Srikanth clinched India's only point when he beat Tommy Sugiarto in the first singles and ended the championships unbeaten.

For this year's E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships in Alor Setar from Feb 6-11 the Badminton Association of India has named a formidable team with high hopes of a podium finish.

After a very successful season last year on the world circuit India are hoping for another dominating performance from Indian men shuttlers in the Asian meet.

The Indian team is formidable. Apart from Srikanth the others in the team in the singles are world No 10 H.S. Prannoy, B. Sai Praneeth (No 15) and Sameer Verma (30).

"We were unfortunate to lose to Indonesia in the semi-finals in Hyderabad. This time we are confident of a good show and a better finish," Badminton Association of India general secretary Anup Narang, was quoted in the Indian media.

Narang believes that the current Indian team will be able to hold their own in the Asian meet which also serves as the Asian qualifier for the Thomas Cup Finals to be held in Bangkok, Thailand from May 20-27.

Srikanth, however, has raised some eyebrows after a rather poor run in the recent Indian Premier Badminton League where he turned out for Awadhe Warriors. He lost three times – to Taiwan's Wang Tzu Wei, H.S. Prannoy and B. Sai Praneeth. 

Together with Prannoy he also pulled out from the Indonesia Masters at the last minute due to "minor injury" but the duo will, however, compete in next week's Yonex Sunrise India Open. Srikanth was seeded second and Prannoy eight in the Indonesia Masters.

Despite his poor show in the Indian League, Srikanth is still the player for India. He has tremendous badminton talent and ability to take on the big guns. Compatriot Prannoy has also been showing good form and his 10-match winning streak in the recent Indian League speaks of his badminton talent and player to watch.

Last year's Singapore Open winner B. Sai Praneeth has risen to No 15 in rankings with Sameer Verma at 30 – which speaks of India's rise in the shuttle sport. India have the players who can hold their own against the world's best.

With Malaysian Tan Kim Her at the helm as the doubles head coach India is also not short in the men's doubles. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty are hailed as the next world beaters and are the top doubles pair in India at 32.

Olympians Manu Attri-B. Sumeeth Reddy are ranked 33 with another up and coming pair Shlok Ramchandran-M.R. Arjun at 41.

For the E-Plus Badminton Asia Team championships India are drawn in Group D and have Indonesia, the Philippines and Maldives for company. The group champions and runners-up will advance to the quarter-finals with India and Indonesia as good bets.

Team India
(World rankings in brackets)

Men

Singles
K. Srikanth (3)
H.S Prannoy (10)
B. Sai Praneeth (15)
Sameer Verma (30)

Doubles
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty (32)
Manu Attri-B. Sumeeth Reddy (33)
Shlok Ramchandran-M.R. Arjun (41)
 

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