Top Indian shuttlers â€“ Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth â€“ will feature in their women's and men's singles matches respectively during the second round of the All England Open at Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, Thursday. The two remain India's best hopes in the tournament.
Saina Nehwal danced her way through to the second round, defeating Michelle Li. The second seed will be keen to maintain the same momentum when she faces Thailand's Busanan Ongbumrungphan in the second round.
Saina enjoys a superior 2-0 head-to-head record over Busanan, who played some quality badminton in their last meeting during the Denmark Open, but lost in a thrilling three game match. If Saina gets her rhythm going, the Thai girl will be no match for the Indian, but the 25-year-old, who is making her comeback after missing some tournaments due to injuries, could be tested.
The world number two should treat this match as perfect preparation for the third round clash, which is expected to be a tough one as Saina is set to meet the winner between Tai Tzu Ying and Sung Ji Hyun.
But India shuttler, Srikanth has no such luxury of taking it easy in the second round. Srikanth is set to face Japan's Kento Momota, who is the fourth seed in the All England Open, and one of the favourites for the title.
Their route to the second round has been contrasting with Srikanth getting past Rajiv Ouseph in the first round in straight games, while Momota lost the first game before clinching the next two against qualifier Christie Jonatan.
Though Momota might be the favourite to progress, his head-to-head record against Srikanth suggests that the Indian has always given a tough fight to the fourth seed. Momota has emerged victorious four times, while Srikanth has defeated the Japanese thrice.
Irrespective of who emerges triumphant, the winning shuttler will gain immense confidence to take on others in future matches at the the All England Open.
Besides Saina and Srikanth, other Indian shuttlers in the fray are B. Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma. Praneeth must be on cloud nine after his amazing display, which helped him defeat Lee Chong Wei in the first round, but he has to maintain such form to progress further as he will meet Denmark's Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in the second round. Verma will face eight seed Tian Houwei.
Where to watch live
Sameer Verma vs Tian Houwei (12:15 p.m GMT, 5:45 p.m IST)*
Saina Nehwal vs Busanan Ongbumrungphan (12:40 p.m GMT, 6:10 p.m IST)*
Kidambi Srikanth vs Kento Momota (4:30 p.m GMT, 10 p.m GMT)*
Sai Praneeth vs Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (5:30 p.m GMT, 11 p.m GMT)*
The live coverage of All England Open can be watched live in India on Star Sports 4/HD with the option of going online on starpsorts.com.
Viewers in the UK can live stream All England Open matches on Eurosport Player.
*Match timings may differ as it depends on the completion of earlier matches.