The first day of the prestigious Sudirman Cup threw in a big surprise as Malaysia stunned one of the title favourites -- South Korea -- defeating them 3-2. With this victory, the Malaysians will be a confident unit as they take on India on Monday in Dongguan, China.
A win for Malaysia will seal their place in the next round of the competition as well, but India have some big in-form players in their ranks with the likes of Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth to give the Malaysians a run for their money.
Though India may have two strong singles players, it is the doubles team that looks below par. Even if Saina and Srikanth win their respective singles, India will have to win one of their doubles matches (men's, women's or mixed).
India start off their campaign on Monday with the men's doubles pairing of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy , who face a daunting task against the in-form Malaysian pair of Goh V Shem and Tan Kee Kiong. It was this Malaysian pair, which defeated South Koreans Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun.
The Indian team are also aware of the tough task ahead with doubles being a weak point. But India's major ray of hope lies in women's doubles with the pairing of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa. They have been playing together for quite some time now in the international circuit as well.
"It will be tough. Both singles we have a good chance to win but doubles it will be tough. So our players need to play very well to beat them," The Times of India quoted Indian shuttler Parupalli Kashyap as saying.
If the men's doubles team shocks the Malaysian pair in the first match, the Indian team can go for the kill as well, as the doubles is followed by two singles, which is truly India's forte in the competition.
Saina Nehwal will meet Malaysia's Tee Jing Yi and if the Indian plays within herself, she can defeat the Malaysian and give India a chance to progress to the next round.
Though Kidambi Srikanth has been doing well of late in men's singles, he will not find it easy against the former World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, who made a spirited comeback from doping ban as he showed his class defeating Lee Dong Keun in straight sets, 21-12 and 21-10.
The final two matches of India-Malaysia clash will witness the women's doubles pairing of Gutta and Ponnappa in action, which will be followed by mixed doubles.
India's hope lie on three key matches today – men's and women's singles along with the mixed doubles.
Where to Watch Live
Sudirman Cup live coverage of India-Malaysia clash starts at 7pm local time (4:30pm IST, 7 am ET, 12pm BST) with live coverage in India on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 2 HD.
Indian viewers can stream it live on starsports.com.