Aakarshi Kashyap clinched the top spot in women’s singles in the selection trials for upcoming big-ticket team events with a three-game win against Ashmita Chaliha on Wednesday at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi.
Later, in men’s singles, Priyanshu Rajawat defeated Kiran George in three games to clinch the all-important top spot in men’s singles.
In another important face-off towards the end of the event, Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand continued their fine run in 2022. The All England semifinalists defeated the senior pairing of Ashwini Ponnappa / Sikki Reddy, ranked No 20 in the world, to clinch the top spot in women’s doubles at the selection trials. The match, and the scoreline of 21-10 21-7, perhaps firmly establishes the young duo as the country’s best women’s doubles pairing at the moment and is set to make them part of the team for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The selection trials to pick the teams for the upcoming Thomas & Uber Cup, CWG and Asian Games have been taking place in the capital in the past week.
Aakarshi finished the trials without a single defeat, pocketing seven wins out of seven, with the most decisive one coming against Ashmita on the final day. The Assamese left-hander came into this match with five wins out of six and with the winner guaranteed to take top spot, the match went the former’s way 21-10, 17-21, 21-15.
Haryana teenager Unnati Hooda, meanwhile, completed her impressive week with a third-place finish by defeating Aditi Bhatt in straight games. Aditi will take the fourth spot.
Only PV Sindhu was assured of a direct spot in the squads based on her world ranking and these trials will effectively be the deciding factor to determine the squads for upcoming team events. The No 2 ranked Indian in the BWF world rankings, Saina Nehwal is not part of these trials.
Later in the day, Priyanshu Rajawat, 20-year-old from MP, took on Kerala’s Kiran George to decide the top spot in men’s singles section. It was a crucial battle as three men’s singles players are already assured direct berths through the world rankings in Lakshya Sen, Srikanth Kidambi and HS Prannoy. Rajawat came out on top eventually in a three-game affair 21-15, 18-21, 21-10.
In mixed doubles, the top spot went to Ashwini Ponnappa and B Sumeeth Reddy who came back from a game down to defeat Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto in a thriller that saw emotions run high. Ashwini’s experience and calmness stood out in the final stages as she guided Sumeeth through the nervy climax to overcome the youngsters who were left heartbroken in the end, though they finished second.
In women’s doubles, Gayatri (who had been bothered earlier in the week with an injury) and Treesa dominated their senior pairing. While the top three doubles pairing are likely to make the cut to Uber Cup, top spot will help the youngsters seal their selection for CWG. Ashwini and Sikki had won bronze in 2018 at the Gold Coast CWG.
The top spots in men’s doubles category went to the country’s second ranked pair in the BWF charts. With Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty earning the automatic selection, the trials saw Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun dominate the field for the most part, winning all their matches, to eventually come out on top.
For CWG, both men’s and women’s teams will consist of two singles players while the remaining three positions will be filled by two doubles players and one mixed doubles player. In the Thomas & Uber Cup and Asian Games squads, one singles and two doubles positions are available in the men’s category while in the women’s section three singles and the same number of doubles positions are up for grabs.
Top-8 men’s and women’s singles players, Top-6 men’s and women’s doubles pairs and 4 mixed doubles pairs will be selected to be part of the National Core Group along with players selected directly.
Thomas & Uber Cup are scheduled in Bangkok from May 8-15 while the 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2022 Asian Games will take place in Birmingham and Hangzhou respectively from July 28 and September 10.