Need to be wary of lesser-known shuttlers at CWG, cautions Prannoy (IANS Interview)

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New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) Star Indian shuttler H.S. Prannoy admits that the pressure will be on top players at the Commonwealth Games (CWG), especially when they come across lesser-fancied rivals and that they need to be ready for any surprise elements.

The 25-year-old is ranked 12th in the world at the moment after reaching the quarter-finals of the All England Badminton Championships in mid-March. He is the third highest ranked in the men’s singles competition after compatriot and world No.2 Kidambi Srikanth and world No.7 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.

Prannoy said that even though the level of competition at the CWG doesn’t match that of the top-tier BWF circuit meets or the Asian Games, he needs to be mentally ready in case a lesser-known player comes up with surprising performances.

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Prannoy will open his singles campaign against Mauritius’ Aatish Lubah in the Round of 32 on Wednesday.

“There may be lesser number of strong players but lesser-known players from other countries who can come and trouble you on a particular day. The pressure is on you when you face lesser-known opponents. So you need to stay calm in the initial rounds and mentally ready to be up for a fight. But in the quarter-finals, there will be strong competitors,” Prannoy told IANS from Gold Coast in an interview facilitated by the CWG’s official broadcaster Sony Pictures Sports Network.

Before the All England at Birmingham, Prannoy had been sidelined for nearly two months due to a wart on his foot.

“In the first game in the opening round, I lost badly. Then Gopichand sir told me play to the atmosphere and don’t think out of the results. It was very comforting message. I was thinking that I am not in pain,” he recalled.

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Prannoy has a 2016 South Asian Games team gold in his cabinet, as well as an individual silver from the same competition and bronze in the Asia Team Championships the same year. He also won the US Open last year as he moved into the top-10 in global singles rankings.

He also revealed that in the next six months his target is to take his ranking inside top-eight in his bid to extend his rising status.

“I am happy in maintaining my rankings around 10-15. Looking ahead, couple of good wins in the BWF circuit will help go up the rankings. In the coming six to seven months, my aim is to reach top-eight as it will help in getting good draws in the bigger events. Top-eight rank will help me in not running into the big players in the initial rounds,” Prannoy said.

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(Abhishek Purohit can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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