Dongguan, May 12: India face former champions South Korea in a must-win battle to qualify for the knockout round of the world mixed team badminton championship, Sudirman Cup at the Dongfeng Nissan Sports Center here on Wednesday.
India put up a spirited performance but lost to Malaysia 2-3 in their first match of Group 1D that has three teams and two will progress to the next round. India’s best bet Sai Nehwal and women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponppa won two matches for their team.
But Kidambi Srikanth, men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy and mixed doubles combo of N. Sikki Reddy and Arun Vishnu lost their matches.
With this win and Sunday’s victory over three-time champions South Korea, Malaysia have already qualified to the next round riding on the success of former world No.1 Lee Chong Wei, who returned to action after serving a backdated eight month doping ban.
The 15-member strong Indian contingent will take on their rivals in all five categories of the sport — singles (men’s and women’s) and doubles (men’s, women’s and mixed).
Former world No.1 Sai is expected to battle world No.7 Sung Ji Hyun, while world No.4 Srikanth will have to fight it out against world No.5 Wan Ho Son in the men’s singles encounter. Olympic bronze medallist Sai leads 5-1 in career meetings against Sung and will be strongly favoured to win.
Srikanth came a cropper against Chong Wei and he needs to raise his bar against Wan Ho Son, who leads 4-2 in career meeting against the 22-year-old.
India will expect both of their singles stars to win as the Koreans are stronger in doubles competitions.
The 2011 World Championship bronze medallists Jwala and Ashwini came out with a surprise when they stunned Vivian Kah Mun Hoo and Woon Khe Wei in women’s doubles but the world No.22 Indian pair will face a daunting task against world No.8 team of Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan.
In the men’s doubles, South Korea have a top-ranked pair in Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong, while India’s best pair of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy is ranked 30th.
In the mixed doubles too, South Korea have better shuttlers. World No.8 team of Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha will be favourites to beat the Indian pair of Sikki and Vishnu.
The Sudirman Cup features 35 teams divided into four groups. Of these, the top 12 ranked teams in Group 1 will vie for the trophy, while the other teams (Group 2, 3, 4) will fight for ranking spots. IANS