Indian Badminton player Sai Praneeth believes that this time the young team India have the firepower to not only reach the knockout but also return with a medal in the coming Thomas Cup. Not to forget that India failed to reach the even knockout stage in the last three edition of the tournament.
The last time India played quarterfinals in 2010 in Malaysia. Despite such unimpressive history, world number 18 Praneeth is hopeful of breaking the jinx. As reported by PTI, Praneeth said, “Competition is tough. All teams are tough. If we could have gone with a full-strength team with Srikanth and Satwik-Chirag, we had a very good chance of winning Thomas Cup this time. But even now we have a good young team and we can come back with a medal.”
India are placed in Group A along with Australia, France, and heavyweights China.
“The draw is okay this time. We have China and France in our group and we have to win against France to make it to the quarterfinals. Last two times we were seeded in 9/16, so we had to play two tough teams in the group but this time we are in top 8 so we got a better draw to qualify for the quarterfinal,” added Praneeth.
The 25-year old Praneeth clinched his maiden Super Series title at Singapore Open last year and expressed that the team is focused on beating France on the opening day of the tournament. “So we have to surely beat France, they are not an easy team. Brice Leverdez and Lucas Corvee are good and we can’t take them for guaranteed. If we beat France we are through to quarterfinal and then we can sit and strategies and if we get a good team such as Indonesia or Korea, we have a good chance in singles,” Praneeth said.
In the singles, HS Pranoy, Sameer Verma and Lakshya Sen will lead the challenge. On the other hand, the pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy and combo of Arjun MR and Ramchandran Shlok will have the responsibility of ensuring wins in doubles.
Talking about this team, Praneeth quipped, “Prannoy has beaten Korea’s Son Wan Ho, Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen, so we have a good chance. But now the focus is to first reach the quarterfinals. We should win one double also. Manu and Sumeeth can win one of the matches. They reached the semifinals at Australia, so their confidence is also high. Arjun and Shlok also did well, they can be a surprise element.”
Further, Praneeth also said that focus is on winning singles and added, “Any team, China or Malaysia or Indonesia and Korea is equal to us since we have three good singles. If we can win the first singles, we will have our chances because it is a team event there would be pressure and top players also can lose their matches, so anything can happen.”
In the last few weeks, Praneeth has been doing with his performance as he reached the quarter and semi-finals of New Zealand and Australia Open and is positive on his game. “I am happy with my performance. I played well. I could have won the two tournaments. I had enough time to train this time so I could play two back to back tournaments. Game-wise there was no problem. I could have won but I lost. I am okay, not worried about my game,” he said.
Last but not the least, when asked about his schedule, Praneeth added, “There will be one month break after Thomas Cup and then there will be Indonesia and Malaysia in June last week. Then we have the World championship and Asian Games.”