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Srikanth, Manjunath, Ashmita cruise to 2nd round with gritty wins

Kidambi Srikanth, Mithun Manjunath and Ashmita Chaliha opened their respective campaigns at the Thailand Masters Super 300 with straight-game wins in Bangkok on Wednesday.

The world no. 24, Srikanth maintained his superior head-to-head record over Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei by registering his fifth victory in their sixth meeting. Though Srikanth won the match in straight games (22-20, 21-19), he had to fight hard for the win.

Srikanth started the match with his traditional full-on aggressive gameplay and took a massive 10-4 lead early in the first game. But in a surprising turn in the game, Wang won seven points in a row to claim an 11-10 lead over Srikanth at the mid-game break.

Srikanth would fight back to save three game points down at 17-20 before clinching the first game 22-20. The second game was much steadier as both players were testing each other’s defence, and it was a difference of 1-2 margin throughout the game. But at the fag end of the second game, Srikanth accelerated his point spree and claimed it 21-19.

With this win, Srikanth confirmed his second round match-up with fellow Indian shuttler Mithun Manjunath, who registered a much easier straight-game (21-17, 21-8) win over Jason Gunawan of Hong Kong.

World no. 36 Kiran George, however, gave a walkover to his first round match after dropping first game 17-21 against Lei Lan Xi of China due to an injury concern, while Sameer Verma fought hard but lost in straight-game (14-21, 18-21) against the world no.21 Ng Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong.

In women singles, Ashmita Chaliha went past Wong Ling Ching of Malaysia with a straight-game victory (21-10, 21-16), while Malvika Bansod won 22-20, 21-8 against Peruvian player Castillo Salazar in her first round outing.

On the other hand, youngster Samiya Imad Farooqui lost 14-21, 18-21 in her tough first round clash against world no.19 Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand. Busanan will face Malvika in the second round on Thursday.

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