Top shuttler Parupalli Kashyap says India have an outside chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the World Men's Team Championship for the Thomas Cup, though they are bracketed with Malaysia, South Korea and Germany in a tough Group C.
"We have an outside chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals on the strength of our singles play. If we have to make the knockouts we must win all our singles," Kashyap told IANS on Wednesday.
"Malaysia will be tough as they have World No.1 Lee Chong Wei, but it is 50-50 against the other two teams. Even against Malaysia, their other singles players are beatable."
A Thomas Cup tie comprises three singles and two doubles matches. "Our confidence against South Korea and Germany stems from our performance against their singles players. Both Kidambi Srikanth and I have defeated them and have good chances against them, though it will be a tough ask," said the 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist.
India is hosting the prestigious biennial event for the first time from May 18-25 and to prepare the team for the tie, chief national coach Pullela Gopichand will hold a special training camp at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here from Thursday.
India doesn't have a great record in the tournament but the 27-year-old Hyderabadi feels that the home advantage can change it all.
"Home court advantage does help. We have a week-long camp to acclimatise better than our opponents. You also feel a lot confident playing at home with the crowd cheering us. We all players always love playing at home and have done well too," said Kashyap, who has dropped to World No.21 from a career-high No.6 in the rankings.
"The team event should be a good experience in familiar surroundings. We keep playing individual events throughout the year but there is national pride playing as a team for the country."
Asked about his own form and fitness, the Gopichand protege said he is gradually getting better at his game and wants to peak during the Glasgow Commonwealth Games (July 21-Aug 4), Copenhagen World Championships (Aug 25-31) and the Incheon Asiad (Sep 19-29).
"I am doing well. I have just been trying to maintain my form since the All-England Open. There have been a series of tournaments and now you have the Thomas Cup. I am working with Gopi sir to fine-tune my game, eliminating errors and planning new strategies," said the player from Andhra Pradesh.
"I am gradually getting better and want to peak at the CWG, World Championships and Asian Games. There are players who initially do well but don't peak when it matters most. I am confident that before the big tournaments, I will be back in the top-10," concluded the former World No.6.