2006 champions Malaysia are overwhelming favourites for the team gold in the badminton event at the Commonwealth Games, in Delhi, while England and hosts India are likely to contend for silver.
Twenty teams in all are set to take part in the badminton events, and they are divided into four round robin groups; seeded teams India, Malaysia, England and Singapore belong to different groups of five teams each.
Malaysia have been placed in Group A, which also has Australia, Nigeria, Seychelles and Isle of Man; Group B comprises Singapore, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Northern Ireland and New Zealand; Group C will see England, Uganda, Canada, Mauritius and Falkland Islands vying with one another; in Group D, apart from hosts India, Scotland, Kenya, Barbados and Wales are the other four teams. The top two teams from each round robin group will advance to the next round.
In the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne, Australia, Malaysia won the gold medal, while England won the silver and India finished third and took home the bronze. Playing in front of a huge crowd of cheering home fans, India will at least aspire for silver, at the New Delhi event.
In the men’s event, the Malaysian effort will be led by the world’s top ranked player Lee Chong Wei. Indian players P Kashyap and Chetan Anand will need to get past the England players before they can match their might against the Malaysian players and aim for gold.
In the women’s doubles event, India are represented by Aparna Balan and Jwala Gutta, while their mixed doubles pair are Gutta and V Diju. The latter, who have a world ranking of 12, will have to contend with the top ranked England pair of Jenny Wallwork and Nathan Robinson if they want a shot at gold.
But India can justly consider themselves as favourites to take the gold medal in the women’s singles event, represented as they are by the world number two Saina Nehwal. The Hyderabadi girl has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and a Commonwealth Games gold medal appears to be just reward for this immensely talented 20 year old, at this stage of her thriving career.
The Siri Fort Sports Complex has five match courts and three warm up courts, and can hold 4,748 spectators. The badminton event to be held at the complex promises to be a mouth watering affair for Indian badminton aficionados. The event will be played between October 4 and 14.