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Asia Badminton C’ships 2023: Prannoy, Sindhu to spearhead Indian challenge

Top Indian shuttlers, including double Olympic medallist P V Sindhu, will hope to find their rhythm as they begin their campaign in the main draw of the Asia Badminton Championships(ABC), here on Wednesday.

The 40th edition of the prestigious continental competition started on Tuesday with the qualifying rounds, while the main draw comprising all the top players will happen only from Wednesday.

It will be a tough task for India to return with a medal, considering most of the top players have been struggling with rhythm and form this season.

India have so far won 17 medals at ABC with Dinesh Khanna claiming the lone gold in 1965 and the likes of Sindhu, Prannoy and Lakshya will have to really play out of their skins to break the title drought.

On a comeback trial after a long injury lay-off, Sindhu has shown some spark when she reached the finals of the Madrid Spain Masters and the 8th seeded Indian will hope to find her ‘A’ game when she begins her campaign against Taiwanese Wen Chi-hsu.

In men’s singles, world number 9 H S Prannoy has been consistent and he will look to gear up for the bigger battles with a good show in the opening round against Phone Pyae Naing of Myanmar, while 2021 world championships silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth will take on Bahrain’s Adnan Ebrahim.

Former world number 6 Lakshya Sen has endured a difficult phase in 2023 as his ranking plummeted after a series of early exits, forcing the Indian to take a break.

The Commonwealth Games champion has a tough road ahead with former world champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore standing on the way in the opening round.

In women’s singles, Malvika Bansod will face top seed and last year’s finalist Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, while Aakarshi Kashyap meets Indonesian Komang Ayu Cahya Dewi.

In men’s doubles, sixth seeded pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who won the Swiss Open super 300 title early this year, will open against Malaysian combination of Tan Kian Meng and Tan Wee Kiong.

MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, and Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala are also in fray.

Women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallists, will face Indonesia’s Lanny Tria Mayasari and Ribka Sugiarto.

Also in the fray are Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam, and Haritha Manazhiyil and Ashna Roy.

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