Rexy: We can capitalise on India’s pressure to retain mixed team gold

Fiery form: M. Thinaah and Pearly Tan are on a good run and should be able to give India a challenge for gold at the Commonwealth Games. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: The pressure is on India to retain their mixed team gold in the Commonwealth Games (July 29-Aug 8) and this will give the young Malaysian squad to challenge the favourites in Birmingham.

National doubles coaching director Rexy Mainaky said Malaysia can match India in all departments and sees women’s singles P. V. Sindhu as the only player who may have an advantage.

Second-seeded Malaysia are in Group 4 with South Africa, Jamaica and Zambia while top seeds India are in Group 1 with Australia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Malaysia also avoided Singapore in the preliminary stage as the regional rivals are in Group 2 with joint third seeds England, Mauritius and Barbados.

Group 3 comprises joint third seeds Canada, Scotland, Maldives and Uganda.

Two teams from each each group will advance to the quarter-finals. India and Malaysia, who should top their respective groups, will be separated in the draw and are set to lock horns in the final again.

Rexy said although India have won the Thomas Cup, they are not fully represented in the mixed team event and Malaysia must take advantage to go for gold.

“The pressure is definitely on them. In Birmingham, we can fight for four points while India have the edge in the women’s singles (Sindhu),” said Rexy.

“If Lee Zii Jia is included, he could play against Lakshya (Sen) while the men’s doubles will be a close battle.

“Our women’s pair Pearly (Tan) and M. Thinaah are also playing very well and we also have options in the mixed doubles. This gives us a good chance to challenge for gold against India. The expectations will be high on the defending champions and this is a good situation for us.

“I don’t understand why we are seeded second although our players are placed higher in the world rankings. But I don’t think it will affect us that much.”

Zii Jia’s rich vein of form should give Malaysia the edge while it is going to be a touch-and-go affair between Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and India’s Thomas Cup heroes Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty in the men’s doubles. Malaysia can also depend on new mixed doubles combination Chan Peng Soon-Cheah Yee See.

Malaysia last won the mixed team gold at the 2014 Games in Glasgow.

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