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Asian Games: Easy draw for India men’s badminton team

India were handed an easy draw in the Hangzhou Asian Games men’s badminton team event on Wednesday which all but assures them of a podium finish. The third seeds, given a first round bye, will face unfancied Mongolia or Nepal in the quarter-finals. A semi-final entry guarantees a medal.

File photo of Indian badminton player HS Prannoy(PTI)
File photo of Indian badminton player HS Prannoy(PTI)

If the draw holds good, it could get tougher from there. India are likely to face top seeds Indonesia, South Korea or Malaysia in the semis. Last year’s first Thomas Cup victory in Bangkok though means Indian shuttlers will go into every tie high on confidence.

The India men’s team has medalled only thrice – all bronze – at the Asian Games – at Tehran 1974, New Delhi 1982 and Seoul 1986. The team comprising HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth and the doubles combine of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have a realistic gold medal chance this time.

The powerhouses in the other half of the draw are holders China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Thailand, one of whom are likely to reach the final at Binjiang Gymnasium.

The Indian women have an easy opener against Mongolia but face fourth seeds Thailand in the quarter-finals. The Thai squad boasts of four top 20 singles players, including former world champion Ratchanok Intanon, and two top doubles pairs.

The weight of expectations will be on PV Sindhu’s shoulders despite her indifferent form while Gayatri Gopichand/Treesa Jolly and Tanisha Crasto/Ashwini Ponnappa may have to throw everything then can to win if they are to take India into the semis.

India have won only two women’s team bronze medals in the Asian Games, at New Delhi 1982 and Incheon 2014.

Overall, India have never won a badminton gold at the Games. The best is Sindhu’s singles silver at Jakarta 2018,besides nine bronze.

The team competitions will be held from Thursday to Sunday, while the individual events begin on Monday.

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