CWG 2022: India's track and field athletes to watch out for in Neeraj Chopra's absence

Murali Sreeshankar in action (File photo). MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images

India's track and field campaign at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will get underway on Tuesday with Murali Sreeshankar and Muhammed Anees Yahiya compete in the men's long jump qualification in the afternoon.

With Neeraj Chopra having to withdraw from the Games due to injury, the likes of Seema Punia, Annu Rani and the triple jumpers will shoulder the medal-winning responsibilities. India's best-ever athletics medal haul at the CWG came at home in New Delhi in 2010 with two gold, three silver and seven bronze medals. Indian athletes won a gold, silver and bronze each in the 2014 and 2018 editions.

Here are India's major athletics medal prospects at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games:

Murali Sreeshankar - Men's Long jump

Sreeshankar has the potential to be a world-beater and will look to find the podium on his Commonwealth Games debut. The 23-year-old recently became the first Indian to make it to the men's long jump final of the World Athletics Championships. He is the leading jumper among the Commonwealth nations - his 8.36m jump, which came at the Federation Cup in April, is the second-best jump in the world this season.

Sreeshankar will be accompanied by Muhammed Anees Yahiya, who has crossed the 8m mark five times this season, and the duo will look for India's first men's long jump gold at the CWG.

Qualification: August 2
Final: August 4

Read more: M Sreeshankar 2.0: How mixing with world's best jumpers may help him join the elite

Tejaswin Shankar - Men's High Jump

Tejaswin will be among the most-watched athletes at the Games as he dons the India jersey for the first time since his sixth-place finish at Gold Coast. His path to CWG 2022 has been riddled with administrative hurdles and he got a last-minute clearance from the authorities, reaching Birmingham just three days before his event. The two-time NCAA champ has a personal best of 2.27m.

Qualification: August 2
Final: August 3

Read more: Higher, further, faster: Tejaswin Shankar hungry for more after heptathlon national record

Seema Punia - Women's Discus Throw

Among India's most decorated athletes at the Commonwealth stage, Seema is aiming for her fifth consecutive medal. She has three silver medals [2006, 2014, 2018] and a bronze to her name [2010]. All that's missing in her medal collection is a gold, and a depleted playing field offers her the chance to achieve that.

Her season's best was a 57.09m effort that came in the USA last month. Also in contention will be Navjeet Kaur Dhillon, who won bronze in 2018.

Final: August 2 (3rd morning India time)

Read more: Without a coach and her favourite discus, Punia still wins silver

Rohit Yadav and DP Manu - Men's Javelin Throw

Rohit and Manu will spearhead India's medal hopes in Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra's absence. Rohit has been remarkably consistent this season and has crossed the 80m mark five times.

Manu is India's second-best thrower on form and recorded a massive personal best of 84.35m in June, which is the 15th best throw in the world this year.

Final: August 7

Read more: DP Manu raises benchmark for India's next-gen javelin stars

Read more: How a bamboo patch carved javelin thrower Rohit Yadav's path

Annu Rani - Women's Javelin Throw

Annu will look to shed the bitter memories of her miserable outing at Tokyo Olympics as she guns for a first Commonwealth Games medal. Annu had finished 8th in 2014 and did not participate in the 2018 edition. She finished seventh at the recently-concluded World Championships and has a season's best of 63.82m.

Final: August 7

Eldhose Paul - Men's Triple Jump

The only Indian triple-jumper to qualify for the final at the World Championships, Eldhose [PB and SB: 16.99m] is in good stead ahead of the Games. The battle for the medals could be between the Indians as Abdulla Aboobacker [PB and SB: 17.19m] and Praveen Chithravel [PB and SB: 17.18m] will also be in action. The men's triple jump would be India's best shot at a gold medal.

Qualification: August 5
Final: August 7

Avinash Sable - Men's 3000m Steeplechase

Avinash has been among India's most consistent athletes and has been on a national record-breaking spree. The Armyman has been training in the USA for the better part of the year and is in terrific shape. While the playing field is a rather challenging one, you can count on Avinash to spring a surprise.

Final: August 8

Read more: Soldier turned steeplechaser, Avinash Sable targets Olympics after breaking 37-year-old national record

Dutee Chand

India's fastest woman sprinter since 2012, Dutee will look to go out with a bang in what will be her first, and most likely, last appearance at the Games. She'd told ESPN earlier in June that she is considering retiring after the 2024 Olympics.

Dutee will run the 100m as well as the 4x100m women's relay. The relay team is also a good medal prospect but has been rocked by two doping cases and now has only four members [Dutee, Hima, Srabani Nanda, NS Simi] and no substitutes. Long-jumper Ancy Sojan and 110m hurdler Jyothi Yarraji are reportedly the back-up runners.

Read more: Dutee Chand aims to defy age in bid to go faster, higher, stronger

Hima Das

Nope, she is not running in the women's 400m race and has not won the gold as the fake social media story said. Hima has made the transition from the quartermile and now runs in the women's 200m dash and the 4x100m women's relay.

Read more: Hima Das' meteoric rise from an Assam village to the CWG