Jakarta: The in-form PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth will look to break new grounds as they spearhead India’s charge for an elusive gold at the 18th Asian Games badminton event which begins with the team competitions here Sunday.
India have so far won eight medals in badminton. Two have been in team events (2014, women’s) and 1986 (men).
In the team event, however, the Indian eves face a daunting task Monday when they take on Japan. The Japanese have in their ranks World Champion Nozomi Okuhara and World No.2 Akane Yamaguchi. Also their doubles combinations are the best in the world. So if the Indian women’s campaign ends in the quarterfinals itself, one should not be surprised. On paper, India don’t have any chance to upset the Japanese juggernaut.
For the men’s team, the action begins Sunday as they open against minnows Maldives. If India can cross the first hurdle, they will take on hosts Indonesia. Even though Indonesia have quality players in Jonatan Christie and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, the likes of Srikanth and HS Prannoy can take India far. If Commonwealth Games silver medallists Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy can punch above their weight in doubles, there is every possibility of the men breaking their 32-year medal drought.
“As I said before, India have the chance of winning a medal in each and every segment, including team,” Gopichand told reporters here Saturday. “But everybody will have to play to their potential, after all medals don’t come easy,” he added.