Double-Olympic medallist PV Sindhu, world No 8 HS Prannoy would be expected to lead a strong Indian contingent for the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships to be played in Dubai from February 14-19 as the squad was announced on Wednesday.
Badminton Association of India said in a statement that they once again followed the system of picking certain top players directly (based on their world ranking) while conducting trials for the rest of the squad to pick a team that is capable of challenging for a medal in the prestigious continental competition.
Lakshya Sen and Satwiksairaj Ranikreddy and Chirag Shetty have also been named in the squad along with women’s doubles pairs of Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand, Ashwini Bhat/Shikha Gautam.
Prannoy and Lakshya are the top two ranked men’s singles shuttlers from the country at the moment.
Aakarshi Kashyap, Krishna Prasad Garga / Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala, Ishaan Bhatnagar / Tanisha Crasto are believed to have been selected through a trial system.
The following players were part of the trials as per BAI, that took place in New Delhi on Tuesday:
Women’s singles: Aakarshi Kashyap Ashmita Chaliha
Men’s doubles: Krishna Prasad Garga/Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala, Ishaan Bhatnagar/Sai Pratheek
Mixed doubles: Ishaan Bhatnagar/Tanisha Crasto, Venkat Gaurav Prasad/Juhi Dewangan, Rohan Kapoor/Sikki Reddy
The last edition of the event in 2021 had to be cancelled due to the Covid pandemic and the Indian contingent would be keen to show how far they have come since 2019.
Lakshya Sen would be the second men’s singles player in the squad while Aakarshi Kashyap would provide backup to Sindhu in women’s singles.
French Open champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were expected to to shoulder the men’s doubles burden with Krishna Prasad G and Vishnuvardhan Goud making it to the team as the second pair. However, due to a hip injury sustained by Rankireddy, he has been replaced by Dhruv Kapila.
“We have picked a very strong team that is capable of beating any top nation on their day. Our men’s team had showed during the Thomas Cup last year what happens when they find their rhythm and I am confident that this team can also finish on the podium,” said Badminton Association of India secretary Sanjay Mishra is quoted as saying in the statement.
All England semi finalists Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly will be the main women’s doubles pair with Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Castro expected to pick the mixed doubles responsibility.
Earlier, PTI reported that Saina Nehwal and Malvika Bansod (the two highest ranked players behind PV Sindhu in women’s singles) both indicated their unavailability for the trials which meant it came down to a match between Ashmita Chaliha and Aakarshi Kashyap. The report also stated that MR Arjun was unavailable due to an injury, which meant the pairing of Arjun and Dhruv Kapila were not part of the selection process.
UPDATE: Due to a knee injury, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will not be able to compete at the event. He has been replaced by Dhruv Kapila.
India squad Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships :
Men’s Singles: Lakshya Sen & HS Prannoy
Women’s Singles: PV Sindhu & Aakarshi Kashyap
Men’s Doubles: Dhruv Kapila & Chirag Shetty; Krishna Prasad Garga / Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala
Women’s doubles: Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand, Ashwini Bhat/Shikha Gautam
Mixed Doubles: Ishaan Bhatnagar / Tanisha Crasto