Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal has some easy encounters in the group stages.IANS

Five days of Rio Olympics, and India are still waiting for their maiden medal in Brazil. Hence all eyes will be on the Indian badminton contingent, including Saina Nehwal, who start their Olympic campaign on Thursday.

Click here to read how Indian badminton players fared in Rio

Besides the former world number one, PV Sindhu (women's singles), Kidambi Srikanth (men's singles), Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa (women's doubles), and Manu Attri and Sumeth Reddy (men's doubles ) will feature in their respective events.

With top shooters failing to win a medal for India in Rio, there will be pressure on Saina to bring home the elusive medal. Saina has been pitted in an easy group comprising Brazil's Lohaynny Vicente and Ukraine's Marija Ulitina.

Saina will open her campaign with Vicente, and she should not have any trouble in getting past her opponent. The Indian shuttler can use such matches to help her build confidence and test her fitness ahead of some big matches in the knockout stages, which are going to be a lively affair.

If Saina, who won the Australian Open Superseries prior to Rio Olympics, can remain on top of her game, she has the mettle to defeat any opponent in the competition.

The other women's player in the Indian team, Sindhu is in a tricky group, which also includes Canada's Michelle Li. She will play her first match against Hungary's Laura Sarosi. Sindhu is a top player when on song, but her consistency is a point of concern. She can blow hot and cold in a matter of minutes.

The Indian is making her Olympics debut, but she is still a well-known player, who has already defeated top shuttlers like Li Xuerui and Carolina Marin. Such results will only propel Sindhu to achieve greater things in Rio. As of now, she has to keep her focus in the group stages, and finish on top of the pool to feature in the knockout competition.

In the men's singles, Kidambi Srikanth is the lone Indian shuttler, who has a tough job to do, with the number of world-class shuttlers featuring in the competition. Though the group stages may be a tad easier, he will need to come up with an A-plus performance to win a medal in Rio. Srikanth will open his Olympic campaign with a match against Mexico's Munoz.

Like other shuttlers, he has a dream of making India proud with his performances on the court.

"It has been a good two months for me. After a long time I could get a necessary break and I really could work on overall aspects of the game. It has been a dream to qualify for Olympics and I hope to make India proud," PTI quoted Srikanth as saying.

Coming to the doubles scenario, India have a daunting task ahead. The pairing of Attri-Reddy have a tough opening match as they prepare to face the Indonesian duo, Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, who are ranked world number two. They are in a mighty difficult group, which consists of other top pairs like Chai Biao and Hong Wei from China as well. 

Likewise, the women's doubles team comprising Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa does not have it any easy. Top seeds Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo are also in the same group, and it is this Japanese pair, who will be their first opponent on Thursday.

Where to watch live

Saina Nehwal vs Lohaynny Vicente is scheduled for 7:50 p.m IST (3:20 BST, 11:20 am) start. PV Sindhu's match will start at 6:40 pm IST. Srikanth's singles game will proceed from 5:35 am IST. Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa women's doubles contest is slated for 4:30 p.m IST, and the men's doubles will start their campaign at 5:30 p.m. 

India: TV: Star Sports 1/HD and 2/HD. Live Streaming: and Hotstar.

UK and Ireland: TV: BBC. Live Streaming: BBCiPlayer.

USA: TV: NBC. Live Streaming: NBC Sports live extra, NBC Olympics

Brazil: TV: SporTV, Globo, Fox Sports and ESPN.

Argentina: TV: ESPN and DirecTV. Live Streaming: ESPN Play Latin America.

Australia: TV: Channel 7, 7Two and 7Mate. Live Streaming: Channel 7 online.

Also read