New Delhi: Touted as the World Cup of badminton, the Thomas and Uber Cup comes to India for the first time but despite promising to raise their game in home conditions, the country's shuttlers have kept their expectations realistic in the star-studded biennial event starting here tomorrow.
In a tournament which has been dominated by Asian players from countries such as traditional powerhouse China, Indonesia and Malaysia, India have failed to come up with consistent performances over the years despite being among the top badminton nations in the 1950s and 60s.
This time too the Indian shuttlers are targetting at least the quarterfinals of the prestigious tournament.
India reached the final stage no more than eight times in Thomas Cup and three times in Uber Cup. Even in 1988, when the qualifiers were held in the Indian capital, India had reached the final stage, riding on the performance of Prakash Padukone, late Syed Modi and Vimal Kumar.
Later in 2000, Pullela Gopichand, the current national coach, helped India reach the final stage in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
In 2006, Anup Sridhar, Arvind Bhat and Nikhil Kanetkar helped India reach the quarterfinals, while riding on Saina Nehwal, the Indian women's team snapped its poor record with a quarterfinal finish in Uber Cup at the 2010 edition in Kuala Lumpur.
Indian men also reached the last eight in 2010.
However, India failed to qualify in the last edition and this time the onus will be on Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Parupalli Kashyap, a veteran of four Thomas Cup, and Olympic bronze-medallist Saina to take India to the knockout stage once again.
India have been clubbed with Malaysia, South Korea and Germany in Thomas Cup and Thailand, Canada and Hong Kong in the Uber Cup.