At National Badminton Championship, bragging rights at stake
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Defending champion P Kashyap, likely to play with a taped shoulder, will have a tough fight on his hands to maintain his pre-eminence as India's best men's singles player, with the likes of K Srikanth and old foe Ajay Jayram keen on snatching the baton and bragging rights respectively, at the 78th Senior National Badminton Championship with the individual events starting this Friday.
While Kashyap skipped the inter-zonals currently underway after sustaining a shoulder injury in training, he will reach Delhi on Thursday for the main event.
"I withdrew from the team event so that I've more time for rehab so that I can participate in the individuals. It hasn't recovered fully so I'll have to manage it with taping," he said from Hyderabad.
The men's field is teeming with promise, though the likes of B Sai Praneeth, nursing a shin pain, Guru Sai Dutt, Sourabh Verma and HS Prannoy — the regulars in the last-four stages at Nationals — are struggling to break through on the international circuit.
This edition of the Nationals though, could be a good opportunity for Srikanth, a GP Gold winner from last season to supercede his seniors.
woman to beat
World championship bronze medallist PV Sindhu will attempt to reclaim her crown she lost to a spirited Sayali Gokhale last Nationals, as she will start as the favourites in the women's singles category in the absence of Saina Nehwal, who is recovering from an illness and will need to be ready in time for the east Asian swing of Super Series events starting early January.
She is likely to skip Korea SS too owing to recuperation, and will resume her international competitions from Malaysia.
While the likes of PC Thulasi and Arundhati Pantwane would want to challenge Sindhu who has been in the Top 10 of the world this year besides winning a pair of titles, the Nationals will be all-too-crucial for Sayali Gokhale who has been pushing for selection to more international tournaments but hardly got a handful despite winning the crown beating Sindhu last year.