The Indian challenge at the All England Badminton Championship

The All England Badminton Championship which is held in the in the national indoor arena in Birmingham is set to start today. The tournament will see some of the best players in the badminton world, facing off to win the much coveted title. Part of this brigade of outstanding players is Lee Chong Wei, who is one of the best players and ironically one of the most unlucky players also. Last year he lost two major titles against Lin Dan by very narrow margins. Lee Chong has won the All England Championship title twice before, but failing to win it last year he is all set to reclaim it this time around. Lin Dan, dubbed “super Dan” by his fans is almost certain to miss this championship due to lack of training since his win at the Olympics.

Apart from this, India’s Saina Nehwal is no doubt leading the Indian challenge at the tournament.  She will be playing against World No.20 Sapsiree Taerattanachai in the first round. During their previous four encounters, Saina has won. This will give the World No. 2 a confidence boost in the early stages of the tournament. Her main challenges will arise in the quarter finals where she will face World No.1 Shixian Wang. Saina has a 3-1 head-to-head record against her counterpart. Previously Saina has made it to the quarter finals but never past that. She has been beaten by lower ranked players, and perhaps this year she will be on her guard and be able to progress to the next round. Save the first round, Saina does have a tough draw and it would be interesting to see how the tournament plays out.

Saina won the bronze in the London Olympics, 2012
Saina will be leading the Indian challenge at the All England Championship

Along with Saina, is rising star P.V Sindhu. She will starting in the main draw for the first time and will also be facing a Thai player in the opening round. Sindhu has beaten Busanan Ongbumrungpan in their only other match, and this will give the 17 year old an upper hand. In men’s badminton, Parupalli Kashyap is the one to watch out for. He has been in good form for the last six months and is very enthusiastic about the All England Open Championship. Ranked 11 in the world, he plans to give the tournament his all since this is the next big event after the Olympics. He will be taking on Hsu Jen Hao in the first. It will be the first time that these players are competing against each other. The other Indian to start in the main draw is Ajay Jayaram. He will be taking on Zhengming Wang of China in the first round. Jayaram has beaten the Chinese at the Hong Kong Open last year and will look to repeat the performance.

Parupalli Kashyap is ranked No.11 in the world.
Parupalli Kashyap is ranked No.11 in the world.

There are also some promising Indian mixed doubles teams. Jwala Gutta will be teaming up with V. Diju and Ashwini Ponappa will pair up with Kerala’s Tarun Kona.  Jwala Gutta will be playing after a seven month break, she and Diju will be facing Peter Kaesbauer and Isabel Herttrich in the first round. All in all it looks like the Indian badminton team is a strong contingent, which is well equipped for one of the biggest badminton tournaments.

Jwala Gutta abd Ashwini Ponappa will team up with Diju and Tarun Konoa respectively for the mixed doubles
Jwala Gutta (R) and Ashwini Ponappa (L) will team up with Diju and Tarun Kona respectively for the mixed doubles

You can view the schedule and get updates about the tournament here.

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