This is going to be a very important year for Indian badminton players to showcase their skills and also qualify for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Indian badminton players have had very little action in 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Even when the COVID-19 pandemic started to ease a bit, Indian players were not too keen to travel internationally and play in tournaments sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). However, given the fact that COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, Indian badminton players have had to accept the fact that they will need to travel internationally and play badminton in 2021.
Indian Players Arrive In Thailand
The global badminton calendar is starting out with two important back to back events in Thailand. Top Indian players left over the weekend and have already reached Thailand. Some of the top players that were on the flight included Kidambi Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth, Saina Nehwal, N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponappa.
The players flew from India via Dubai before touching down in Thailand. They posted a group picture on Instagram to let their fans know that they had reached Thailand safely and will now be going through the standard procedures before they step into the bubble.
Two Super 100 Events
There will be two Super 100 events taking place in Thailand during the month of January. The first event will be the Yonex Thailand Open which will run from January 12 to 17. Players will get one day off before the second event takes place. The second event is the Toyota Thailand Open which will run from January 19 to 24.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) also posted a picture on social media and said that a full strength Indian team had flown out to Thailand. BAI wasn’t too happy in 2020 with the fact that a number of top badminton players from India including Sania Nehwal was reluctant to travel and play at tournaments like the 2020 Thomas and Uber Cup in Denmark.
BAI tweeted that it was now time for the badminton racquets to break the lull of no action in Asia and the right time for the shuttle to speak. All of the Indian badminton players have not had any international action since March 2020 with the exception of Kidabmi Srikanth who played at the Denmark Super 750 in October 2020.
Strong Indian Squad
India have sent a really strong squad on paper. Apart from the players we mentioned above, the squad also consists of Parupalli Kashyap, H S Prannoy, Manu Attri, Dhruv Kapila and Sameer Verma. All of these players flew out from Hyderabad. Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy who have qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics are also part of the squad.
The only prominent player missing from the picture and from the India bound flight to Thailand was Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu. Sindhu has been in London for a number of months and was reportedly training with the UK badminton team. PV Sindhu is also reported to have flown out from London and will fly via Doha before heading into Thailand.
Apart from the players, BAI has also sent a strong quadrant of support staff. Some of the key support staff that flew with the players included foreign singles coaches Park Tae Sang and Agus Dwi Santoso. Dwi Kristiawan who is the coach for the doubles teams was also part of the squad.
Players To Watch Out For
Apart from Kidambi Srikanth, all eyes will be on PV Sindhu along with husband and wife duo Parupalli Kashyap and Saina Nehwal. Fans will want to see how well PV Sindhu plays after choosing to train with the UK squad than with the Indian squad.