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Looking to court success the Saina way

India have finally found players who can shine in the international circuit but it will be tough, writes Abhijeet Kulkarni.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2006 12:26 IST

A few days ago, some scribes asked Badminton Association of India (BAI) president VK Verma about his hopes from the Dohabound squad. Verma minced no words, saying ‘not a medal’.

The candid admission of the BAI boss could have caught a few by surprise but was an apt summary of where India stand visà-vis other continental powerhouses.

No doubt India have made a lot of progress in recent times, with the team making the quarterfinals of the Thomas Cup. This has been a year when players like Chetan Anand and Saina Nehwal have done well and are closing the gap. But that by no means gives India a medal hope, leave alone emulating the success of the 1982 squad that won five bronze medals in New Delhi.

Keeping all this in mind, the BAI has decided to field only the men’s team and there will be no representation in the women's doubles and mixed doubles.

World No. 26 Chetan Anand will spearhead the challenge in the men's section with Anup Sridhar and the doubles combination of Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar. Nikhil Kanetkar replaces the injured Arvind Bhat in the team championship.

But the Asiad draw, released on Sunday, has virtually killed the team's aspirations of making it to the semifinals as India have been clubbed with China and Indonesia in Group MA.

The group toppers from the three groups make it directly to the last four with the second placed team playing a playoff for deciding the fourth and last semifinal spot.