The Malaysian Thomas Cup team training at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on May 16, 2014.
NEW DELHI: Is it a sign of troubled days to come? The Malaysian badminton players were again forced to delay their training on the eve of the Thomas Cup Finals because they could not get out of their hotel due to the post-election victory celebrations taking place in the city.
The Malaysian team had been given an early afternoon training session at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium but they only managed to leave their hotel six hours later.
Team manager Datuk Syed Abu Bakar said the bad traffic jam near the venue also forced the team to cancel their morning training session on Friday.
“Yesterday was the first day we got to train at the competition venue and we were supposed to get two sessions. We only managed to train later in the evening. It’s disappointing but we have to make do,” he said.
This could work against Malaysia in their opening Group C tie against India on Sunday.
Malaysia must win or face an embarrassing early exit from the Thomas Cup with a tougher encounter looming in 2012 losing finalists South Korea on Wednesday.
India are no longer the minnows they used to be in past Thomas Cups.
In a country where cricket is the staple sport, badminton has improved considerably in recent years. Now, India boast their own badminton league and even have six players ranked inside the top 50 of the men’s singles – something Malaysia do not have.
Four of those players are participating in the Thomas Cup – K. Srikanth (ranked 18th), P. Kashyap (21st), R.M.V. Gurusaidutt (30th) and Sourabh Varma (35th). India, riding on homeground support, certainly have the ability to take the fight to Malaysia.
Malaysia’s Thomas Cup project leader Rashid Sidek said it is crucial for Malaysia to get off to a good start as their early objective is to top Group C, which also includes Germany.
“We want to finish as the group winners and losing to India is not an option.
“On paper, we should beat them as we are better in the doubles. Lee Chong Wei should win a point but it is the second and third singles (most likely Chong Wei Feng and Liew Daren) which are worrying.
“India can steal points from the second and third singles, so it is crucial for us to win the first doubles match or the pressure will be on our second singles player.
“Playing India in their own backyard tomorrow will not be easy. The stadium will be full of their fans and this could be a factor especially as the courts are close to the stands,” said Rashid.
“If we top the group, we will avoid meeting the top teams like China and Indonesia at the quarter-finals. The four group winners are kept apart until the semi-finals, so it’s important to beat India on Sunday to get things going,” he said.