Haikal pumped up after getting Choong on board Thomas Cup squad

PETALING JAYA: Men’s doubles shuttler Mohd Haikal Nazri is thrilled to be reunited with his partner Choong Hon Jian in the Thomas Cup Finals team.

The 23-year-old Hon Jian has been called up to take up the vacant spot left by singles player Ng Tze Yong in the team after the latter failed to fully recover from back surgery.

Haikal was happy to see his partner join him in the prestigious team meet for the first time.

“Hon Jian’s call-up is good news for both of us and for the team,” said Haikal.

“Rather than Tze Yong going for the tournament and not playing due to injury, it’s good that Hon Jian has been given a chance.”

Hon Jian and Haikal have caught the eye with their quick rise up the ranks since being paired up last August.

The pair captured the back-to-back Syed Modi International and Indian Masters titles in December and stayed consistent to win the Orleans Masters in France last month.

Their strong form saw them move up to No. 29 in the world rankings.

Haikal believes their inclusion for the Thomas Cup which is set to take place from April 27-May 5 in Chengdu was another step in the right direction in their partnership and is out to seize the opportunity.

“It will be a good experience for us to be part of the team meet. All are top pairs here,” said the 21-year-old Haikal.

“I want to use this opportunity well. If we are picked to play, we want to do our very best.”

Haikal-Hon Jian were also part of the team that finished runners-up in the Asia Team Championships in February in Shah Alam.

Just like in the Asia team meet, the other doubles pairs bound for Chengdu are world No. 5 Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and world No. 15 Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani.

In the singles, Malaysia will have Lee Zii Jia, Leong Jun Hao, Cheam June Wei and Justin Hoh.

The team will face Hong Kong, Algeria and Denmark in Group D.

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