India’s campaign in the World badminton championships commencing at Basel (Switzerland) on August 19 suffered a blow with the premier men’s doubles combination of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, recently crowned the Thailand Open champions, pulling out.
Satwiksairaj is still recovering from shoulder pain while Chirag is suffering from abdomen discomfort.
India will also miss the mixed doubles combine of Pranav Jerry Chopra and N. Sikki Reddy, with the former not taking part because of an injury.
Sikki will, however, play in women’s doubles with 2011 Worlds bronze medallist Ashwini Ponnappa.
Srikanth not fully fit
"Even K. Srikanth is not 100 per cent fit. He has started getting into the groove only since last week. Normally, when a player recovers from an injury, he or she needs at least four weeks of intensive preparations to peak for any championship," a member of the support staff involved in the team’s preparations told Sportstar on Thursday.
"World No. 14 Sameer Verma, who has been the best men’s singles player from India with impressive performances in recent times including making it to the 2018 year-ending BWF World Tour Finals, also needs a couple of days of serious attention from the physio to fully recover from a niggle," he said.
Himanta meets players
It has also been revealed that the Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Himanta Biswa Sarma had a one-on-one talk with most of the top players during his visit here last week. He urged them to strictly follow the coaching regimen of the chief national coach, P. Gopi Chand, instead of having their own schedules.
“It is important for you to follow the prescribed training programme rather than prefer your own schedules, personal coaches and support staff,” the BAI chief apparently told the players.
Meanwhile, Gopi is not keen to engage in any discussion on these issues other than saying that the preparations have been good and that he expects good results.
Effectively, the fittest of them all is apparently World No. 19 B. Sai Praneeth, who made it to the knock-out phase in a couple of Majors so far this year, though he did not win a title.
The other key men’s singles player will be World No. 30 H.S. Prannoy, both in terms of fitness and form.
Saina, Sindhu best bets
Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu have no injury worries and enter the tournament as the biggest medal hopes. They prepared well under the guidance of the Korean women’s coach Kim Ji Hyun, a former Asian Games gold medallist.
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