File pic
File pic

Birmingham: World champion P V Sindhu made an impressive start at the All England Badminton Championships but compatriots Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap suffered early exits after losing their respective opening round men's singles matches here on Wednesday.

The Indian women's duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy and men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also progressed to the second round with straight game wins.

Olympic silver medallist Sindhu gave a good account of herself as she covered the court well and dished out a disciplined performance to outwit world number 32 Soniia Cheah of Malaysia 21-11 21-17 in 38 minutes.

The fifth seeded Indian will face Denmark's Line Christophersen next.

Earlier, Ashwini and Sikki got the better of Thailand's Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard 21-14 21-12 in 30 minutes, while the sixth seeded Satwik and Chirag took 19 minutes to see off England's Nikhar Garg and India's Aniruddha Mayekar 21-7 21-10 in a lop-sided contest.

Ashwini and Sikki will face sixth seeded Bulgarian sisters Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva next, while Satwik and Chirag will meet the formidable Danish pair of Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, who had defeated the Indian duo on way to their title win at the Swiss Open.

In the men's singles, seeded eight, Srikanth lost to Ireland's unseeded player Nguyen Nhat 11-21 21-15 12-21. His match lasted exactly an hour as the player from Ireland came back strongly after losing the second game against the Indian.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kashyap put up a brave fight before going down to top seeded Japanese Kento Momota 13-21 2-22 in 42 minutes.

After an initial neck and neck battle till 7-7, Sindhu went into the break with a three-point advantage. The Indian kept the proceedings under control to eventually wrap up the opening game in 16 minutes.

Indian contingent cleared to take part

The Indian badminton contingent has been cleared to participate in the All England Championships after the players, who had tested positive for COVID-19, returned negative in retests conducted by the governing body (BWF) on Wednesday.

Three Indian shuttlers and a support staff had tested positive on Tuesday while a few were awaiting confirmation on their inconclusive samples, leaving the players without much practice ahead of the tournament.

"No positive tests in the team anyone. We are ready for All England," wrote India's Danish foreign coach Mathais Boe in a post in Instagram.

In an email to team managers on Wednesday, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and Badminton England also informed that following further investigations and testing, all team members have been returned to the draw having successfully retested negative.

It also said that, following a higher-than-expected number of inconclusive and positive tests, a full investigation into the testing and laboratory process was conducted in consultation with representatives from Public Health England and the testing companies involved.

"During the process of that investigation, sufficient doubt was raised over the accuracy of the batches of tests submitted by Badminton England, that it was deemed appropriate to retest.

"Following the retest and further investigations, it has been determined that the result of the retest will be one used."

Earlier, BWF and Badminton England had delayed the start of the event by a couple of hours following a significant number of inconclusive COVID-19 test results.

The prestigious Super 1000 tournament was earlier scheduled to start at 9 am GMT.

The Indian campaign was thrown into chaos on Tuesday after reports emerged that three players and a support staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

India's badminton couple Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap were also left confused less than 24 hours before the start of the tournament after the latter's tests for COVID-19 came inconclusive.

Saina too is waiting for her results for her COVID-19 tests and the duo had taken to Twitter to express their displeasure.

Saina and HS Prannoy had to go through a similar experience in Thailand in January when they had returned positive in a COVID-19 test but was cleared to compete later after further investigation.

Last October, Lakshya Sen alongwith Ajay Jayaram and Shubhankar Dey were forced out of the SaarLorLux Open after DK Sen had tested positive for COVID-19.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal