Despite absence of Saina, Indians look to replicate success achieved four year ago in the 2010 edition
With defending champion Saina Nehwal skipping the 20th Commonwealth Games, India will be pinning their hopes on P.V. Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap and the pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa to repeat their success in badminton that they achieved four years ago at home.
India has had four golds at CWG till date, the last two coming from Saina and Jwala/Ashwini at the 2010 edition in Delhi. Prakash Padukone had won the men’s singles medal in 1978 which India retained through Syed Modi four years later.
Despite top seed Saina’s absence from women’s singles, India could still end up victorious in the category, thanks to second seed Sindhu.
When Saina faltered at last year’s World Championships in China, it was left to Sindhu to secure the honours and she did, winning the bronze. Again here, it would be no different as the tenacious 19-year-old is now the highest-ranked player in the tournament following her compatriot’s withdrawal from the event.
This time, Sindhu, ranked four places below Saina at No.11, was viewed as her toughest rival. The latter may now breathe a little easier as she contemplates her path to glory.
Her main challengers are third seed Kirsty Gilmour, who will attempt to become the first Scot to win the women’s singles title and Canadian fourth seed Michelle Li. Others expected to perform well are Malaysian fifth seed Tee Jing Yi and sixth seed P.C. Thulasi of India.
Meanwhile in men’s singles, in the absence of Malaysia’s two-time defending champion and World No.1 Lee Chong Wei, compatriot and the other ‘Chong Wei’ Feng will lead the challenge as the No.1 seed.
However, 2010 edition’s bronze medallist Kashyap, who is seeded second, will be eager to break Malaysia’s stranglehold, who have won every gold available in the category since 1990. The former World No.6 will hope to emulate the gold medal-winning feat of his predecessors Padukone and Modi.
Meanwhile the other Indians in the fray, who have a good chance of bagging medals, are fourth seed Kidambi Srikanth and fifth seed R.M.V. Gurusaidutt. Lately, Srikanth has been India’s prime contender at international events superseding Kashyap but has been inconsistent.
Hopes are high from women’s doubles defending champions Ashwini and Jwala, who surprised all to clinch the gold four years ago, India’s first yellow metal in the discipline since 1982.
This time the 2011 World Championship bronze medal winning pair are seeded third. Though they are past their prime as a pair, they could spring a surprise by clinching a medal against much tougher competition. Last edition’s silver medallists Shinta Mulia Sari and Yao Lei of Singapore are top-seeded this time around.
India does not have the best team in men’s doubles but sixth seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar can have an outside chance of winning a bronze.
Meanwhile, India emerged a CWG power in badminton in the mixed team event thanks to Saina, Kashyap and Ashwini/Jwala, all of whom starred in the country’s silver medal finish at the 2010 edition. Seeded third behind Malaysia and England, India are again strong medal contenders at the event.