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Malaysia Masters: Pratul Joshi advances, Siril Verma suffers narrow defeat

FEATURED COLUMNIST
379   //    18 Jan 2017, 08:32 IST
Siril Verma
Siril Verma lost a close game in the Malaysia Masters

The Indian shuttlers started off their campaign with mixed fortunes at the season-opening Malaysia Masters in Sibu, Sarawak, on Tuesday. With the top players set to kick off their challenge on Wednesday, only the rising youngsters were in action, out of whom Harsheel Dani, Pratul Joshi and Hemanth M Gowda progressed into the second round.

Narrow win for Pratul Joshi

22-year-old Pratul Joshi, long touted as one of the best talents to emerge from the next group of young Indian shuttlers, prevailed 15-21, 21-16, 24-22 over Singapore’s Zin Rei Ryan NG in 48 minutes. Joshi had clinched the Bahrain International in October and the narrow comeback win shows his confidence under pressure following the title win.

He has a tough task up next as he is most likely to face seventh seed Tommy Sugiarto in the second round.

20-year-old Harsheel Dani, who upset a couple of seeds en route to reaching the quarter-finals of the 2016 Syed Modi International, beat Malaysia’s Zii Jia Lee, 21-19, 21-17. His potential second round opponent is the 16th seed Ihsan Maulana Mustofa of Indonesia.

The third Indian to emerge victorious was Hemanth M Gowda, who got the better of Yehezkiel Fritz Mainaky, 21-14, 21-15 to set up a clash with Taipei shuttler Chun-Wei Chen.

Aditya Joshi, Siril Verma bow out

Pratul’s younger brother, Aditya did not have the same good fortune. The 20-year-old, who put up a good show against Parupalli Kashyap in the recently-concluded second season of the Premier Badminton League (PBL), went down 20-22, 18-21 to Indonesia’s Wisnu Yuli Prasetyo.

The former junior World No. 1 Siril Verma too followed suit. The 17-year-old snatched a game but was not able to win in the end, losing 10-21, 21-18, 17-21 in 50 minutes.

Bangladesh International Challenge champion Abhishek Yelegar, meanwhile, succumbed to a 13-21, 14-21 defeat to the 13th seed Zulfadli Zulkiffli while Rahul Yadav Chittaboina was defeated 16-21, 11-21 by Taipei’s Hsueh Hsuan Yi.

Saina Nehwal starts campaign on Wednesday

On Wednesday, women’s singles top seed Saina Nehwal will begin her challenge against the 231st ranked Thai, Chasinee Korepap. In the men’s singles, sixth seed Ajay Jayaram will square off against the 520th Jun Hao Leong of Malaysia.

A host of Indian doubles stars too will be in action. The pairs of Jwala Gutta-Manu Attri and Ashwini Ponnappa-Sumeeth Reddy will play mixed doubles while the fast-rising Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will be seen in both men’s doubles and mixed doubles.

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FEATURED COLUMNIST
A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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