During the 2018 World Championships, Prannoy was diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and was infected with COVID-19 in November 2020.
The man from Thiruvananthapuram, however, turned his career around at the back end of 2021, returning to the top 10 in December last year. He has been the most consistent Indian singles player in the last 12 months.
He has won the Malaysia Masters in May and finished runner-up at Australian Open before claiming a World Championships bronze medal at Copenhagen, Denmark last month and achieved a career-best world number six ranking.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty
Satwik and Chirag emerged as the brightest stars of Indian badminton with their stellar performance this year. The 23-year-old Satwik from Amalapuram and the 26-year-old Chirag from Mumbai became the first pair to win the Asian Championships gold.
After the coronavirus-induced break, the Indian duo came back strongly in 2022 with title triumphs at the Indian Open Super 500 and the Commonwealth Games before claiming a maiden bronze at the World Championships in Tokyo.
Men's Team Championships:
India have won three bronze medals in men's team event but the country will be heading into the upcoming showpiece on the back of its first-ever Thomas Cup win. The core of that team remains the same as it was Prannoy, Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen and Satwik-Chirag who had fashioned India's epic win.
Given the form of the members, India will start favourites for the team gold.
The team led by Ruturaj Gaikwad is way ahead of the rest of the pack with all proven IPL performers in its roster, but in the shortest format, a side is just one upset away. Anything less than the gold medal would be considered an underwhelming result.
The Indian women's team should have been the runaway favourites in the format but the recent poor show against Bangladesh, and the unavailability of skipper Harmnpreet Kaur for the first two games, could upset its plans. But even then, they are favourites to win the gold.
The Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Indian men's hockey team is firm favourites to win gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games. Going by world rankings (3rd), current form and fitness, it would be a big disappointment if the Harmanpreet Singh-led side achieves anything less than the top spot on the podium.
India doesn't boast of a very good record in the Asian Games, having won the title just three times as against Pakistan's eight crowns and South Korea's four. In the last Games, India secured a bronze, but since then, they have made rapid progress.
Just like their male counterparts, the Savita Punia-led Indian women's team is also a serious contender for a podium finish. Placed seventh in the world, India are currently the highest ranked team in Asia and they wouldn't like to settle for anything less than gold in Hangzhou. The Indian women won the Asiad gold only once, way back in 1982.
Rudrankksh Patil (10m air rifle)
The 19-year-old 10m air rifle shooter will be gunning for nothing less than a gold medal following his stellar success in 2022 when he became the world champion at Cairo and sealed a Paris Olympic quota place for the country.
Manu Bhaker (25m sports pistol)
The junior world champion had a forgetful Tokyo Olympic Games with her pistol malfunctioning in one of the two events she competed in. However, she would like to forget that, as well as the disappointment of the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, and aim for the gold medal in Hangzhou given her pedigree and calibre.
The psychological wounds of a heartbreaking loss in the men's singles final at the 2014 Incheon edition remain fresh in Ghosal's mind as the veteran athlete goes into the Games once again as the favourite for the gold medal.
The Indian is seeded second in the singles behind Malaysia's Eain Yow Ng, an opponent 12 years younger to him. Ghosal, who is currently the highest-ranked player in Asia at 17, will also need to be wary of his rivals from Pakistan, Kuwait and Hong Kong.
A record 19-time national champion, Joshna goes into the competition following an injury-ridden year that saw the former world number 10 drop to as low as 71 in the PSA rankings.
However, she remains India's best for a medal in the women's singles. Her main rivals in the competition include top seed Satomi Watanbe of Japan and Ho Tze Lok of Hong Kong.
Dipika Pallikal and Harinderpal Sandhu
Dipika and her mixed doubles partner Harinderpal had the opportunity to take part in the Asian Games test event in Hangzhou three months ago and they made the most of it by winning the gold. The Games are expected to be Dipika's swansong and she is giving her all on the training front to make it a memorable affair.
The team comprising Sharath Kamal, in his fifth and last Asian Games, G Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai did the unthinkable in Jakarta as it beat the mighty Japan in the quarterfinals to secure a historic bronze in Asian Games, ending a 60-year wait for India's first table tennis medal in the continental event.
The men's team event remains India's best bet for a medal in Hangzhou. The trio recently ended with a bronze in the Asian Championships in South Korea but repeating that feat at the Games will be a much tougher task.
Following a memorable performance in the men's team event in Jakarata, India ended up with a surprise bronze medal there via Sharath and Manika Batra.
India's star female player will be pairing up this time with Sathiyan, and both will be looking to make a mark with one eye on the Paris Olympics next year.
Rohan Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri
At 43, Bopanna is still playing some solid tennis and is expected to defend his men's doubles title at the Games. In the last edition, he had won the gold with Divij Sharan, and in Hangzhou, he is expected to pair with Bhambri.
Bopanna is still playing superb tennis which was evident at the US Open where he played the final alongside Mathew Ebden.
Having a player like Bhambri to share the court increases his chances even more. Bhambri was playing singles till early this year and has an all-round game with solid ground strokes.
Aman Sehrawat (men's 57kg)
Aman has made steady progress in the last two years. The hard-working trainee at the Chhatrasal stadium has underlined his growth by winning the U23 World and Asian Championships last year, and now he is making his presence felt on the senior circuit as well.
He won the Asian Championship this year. Competing in Olympic medallist Ravi Dahiya's category, Aman has emerged as a serious contender to challenge his superior and fancied opponent, Dahiya.
Antim Panghal (women's 57kg)
If not gold, Antim Panghal will be in contention for at least a podium finish in her category. The wrestler from Hisar effortlessly won the recent trials for the Games and the Worlds. She recently became the country's first woman wrestler to win back-to-back junior world titles. She is sound both technically and mentally.
As is the case with almost every tournament she competes in, the ever-smiling Mirabai Chanu will start as a strong medal favourite. With only an Asian Games medal missing from her trophy cabinet, Mirabai has prioritised the continental championships this year.
The Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist has been working hard to get the coveted 90kg snatch lift. While it will be difficult to get the gold with Chinese lifters Hou Zhihui and Jiang Huihua in the field, a podium finish is highly likely for the Manipuri. PTI