India without top shuttler Srikanth for Thomas Cup Finals
Thomas Cup: Ajay to spearhead Indian challenge
FOR the first time ever, India will have a record seven shuttlers in this year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August, two more than they did in London. India's top men's doubles pair Manu Attri-B. Sumeeth Reddy will be among the Indian shuttlers to make their Olympics debut.
Also for the first time, India will have two women shuttlers - Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu in the women's singles. Nehwal won a bronze medal at the London Olympics.
But not all Rio Olympics-bound Indian shuttlers will be in Kunshan for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Finals. India's top men's singles shuttler K. Srikanth is giving Kunshan a miss.
India, quarter-finalists at the last Thomas Cup Finals held in New Delhi, will be led by Ajay Jayaram, at 28, the oldest player in the squad and ranked No 21 in the world.
Also in the team is much improved H.S. Prannoy and B. Sai Praneeth, the man who beat Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei in the first round in this year's All-England Superseries Premier. The youngest player in the Thomas Cup team is Chirag Shetty, who is only 15 years while R. Satwik Sairaj is only 18 years-old. Both are doubles players.
Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy, ranked No 20 in the world, won the Mexico Open Grand Prix and reached the US Grand Prix Open Gold last year.
India are drawn with 13-times champions Indonesia, Thailand, and Hong Kong.
While the men may not have their top singles star, the women's team will have their best in Kunshan. Saina and Sindhu are strong in the women's singles while Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponappa are the country's top doubles pair. Sindhu is a two-time World Championships bronze medallist - in Guangzhou (2013) and Copenhagen (2014).
In the Uber Cup, India are drawn in D with 2014 runners-up Japan, Australia and Germany.
THE INDIAN TEAM
B. Sai Praneeth
B. Sumeeth Reddy
R. Satwik Sai Raj
Ruthvika Shivani Gadde
Nelakurthi Sikki Reddy