Not often at the Thomas Cup have the Indians arrived with strength in all departments.
This edition of the TotalEnergies BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2022 could be different.
As they take on Chinese Taipei, Germany and Canada in Group C of the Thomas Cup, and with their top players in form, India have the potential not just to make the quarterfinals, but beyond.
The three singles (Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy) and top doubles (Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty) can, minus any fitness concerns, win three points against any team in the competition. Kidambi, Prannoy and Rankireddy/Shetty have the quality and the experience, while Sen’s youthful energy and ability to handle pressure could be vital to swing the ties their way, in the manner that the upcoming Kento Momota did for Japan in 2014.
A golden opportunity to match or better their predecessors’ semifinal performances from 1952, 1955 and 1979 awaits, but first, they will be cognisant of the challenges in the group.
Chinese Taipei too sport a solid squad, with Chou Tien Chen and Wang Tzu Wei in singles and Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin and Lu Ching Yao/Yang Po Han in doubles. The Chinese Taipei-India group match could well be a cracker of a contest and an indicator of their future fortunes.
For Canada, Brian Yang has worked up good form over the last few months, and with Jason Anthony Ho-Shue/Nyl Yakura in doubles, the Canadians could pose a problem or two for the heavyweights. The Canada-Germany match could be an intriguing affair, given the form that Mark Lamsfuss/Marvin Seidel – recent winners of the European Championships – are in.
On Home Turf Again
Just four years ago, Thailand’s women took full advantage of a strong team and their home opportunity to make the final of the Uber Cup. They have some of the same personnel – Ratchanok Intanon, Busanan Ongbamrungphan, Rawinda Prajongjai/Jongkolphan Kititharakul – and with Pornpawee Chochuwong, Phittayaporn Chaiwan and Supanida Katethong in singles and Benyapa Aimsaard/Nuntakarn Aimsaard in second doubles, should be able to cruise through to the knockout rounds. Intanon however is some way off her prime, and much will depend on Chochuwong, particularly in the knockout rounds.
Denmark will pose a strong challenge for top honours in the group. With Mia Blichfeldt and Line Christophersen in the top two singles, and Sara Thygesen/Maiken Fruergaard in doubles, the Danes have an interesting line-up.
Goh Jin Wei’s inclusion potentially makes Malaysia a tricky team to face, although she has played few events over the last two years.Pearly Tan/Thinaah Muralitharan are the spearheads, but it will be something of a surprise if the Malaysians do upset either of the two higher-ranked teams.
As for Egypt, they will hope that their team of Nour Ahmed Youssri, Doha Hany, Jana Ashraf, Jana Hesham Mohamed Abdelkhader and Hana Tarek Zaher can spring a surprise or two and gain much by way of experience.