With top brass skipping the tournament, young guns of Indian badminton, including Sourabh Varma and Arundhati Pantawane, will brace up for the challenge when they begin their campaign at the $120,000 Malaysian Grand Prix Gold, starting with the qualifiers at Pasir Gudang on Johor Bahru on Tuesday.
After back-to-back tournaments, top Indian shuttlers, including Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap, have decided to skip the event. In their absence, it would be the young crops like Sourabh, H.S. Prannoy, Sai Praneeth B. and R.M.V. Gurusaidutt who will lead the Indian challenge at the Stadium Perbandaran Pasir Gudang.
Sourabh has been in good form as he clinched three titles — TATA Open, Austrian International Challenge and Iran Fajr International Challenge recently. Seeded eighth, Sourabh will start his campaign against Hong Kong’s Yan Kit Chan in the men’s singles event here.
Prannoy too has been in good touch as he reached the semifinals of the Syed Modi International tournament and finished runners-up in TATA Open late last year. This season too, he had a few good wins when he defeated compatriot Kashyap in German Open.
The 21-year-old lanky shuttler, seeded seventh, will battle it out against Malaysian Jiann Shiarng Chiang in the first round.
Sai Praneeth B., seeded 12th, who reached the quarters in TATA Open and Syed Modi tournament, will squareoff with Indonesia’s Mahbub Thomi Azizan and sixth seed R.M.V. Gurusaidutt will open his campaign against a qualifier.
Young Aditya, who also reached the semis in Syed Modi, will face another local shuttler in Wei Jian Ai and Subhankar Dey will meet Malaysia’s Teck Zhi Soo.
Among the Indian women shuttlers, Tanvi Lad will clash with Indonesia’s Dinar Dyah Ayustine, National Games champion Arundhati Pantewane, seeded seventh, will be up against Japan’s Ayumi Mine and P.C. Thulasi will take on Hera Desi of Indonesia.
Also in the fray is veteran Chetan Anand, who will take on a qualifier, while Anup Sridhar will clash with Indonesia’s Dharma Alrie Guna in the men’s singles event.
India’s men’s doubles combo of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar are also in fray, while other pairs of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy B., Sanjeeth S. and Jagadish Yadav, Alwin Francis and Arun Vishnu, will also play in the event.
In women’s doubles competition, Indian pair of Pradnya Gadre and Siki Reddy N., eighth seeds Prajakta Sawant and Arathi Sara Sunil will compete.
Similarly in the mixed doubles event, sixth seeds Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan, eight seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Siki Reddy N. will try to fight their way up in the draw, while Prajakta will pair up with local shuttler Vountus Indra Mawan.