Gayatri Gopichand and Aakarshi Kashyap were among seven players picked from selection tournaments for India’s Asian Games squad, announced by the Badminton Association of India on Wednesday.
Thirteen players out of the 20-member squad picked themselves after BAI exempted India’s top international shuttlers from playing two selection tournaments in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. These include Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, K Srikanth and HS Prannoy.
The remaining seven were picked on the basis of performances in the two selection tournaments. Sourabh Verma, who won one of the tournaments and reached the final of the other, took the only remaining men’s singles spot after automatic selections Srikanth, Prannoy, Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma.
In women’s singles, where only Sindhu and Saina’s spots were guaranteed, BAI picked four other shuttlers from the selection tournaments – Sai Uttejitha Rao and Ashmita Chaliha, who won the titles, and Gayatri Gopichand and Aakarshi Kashyap, who were semi-finalists in Hyderabad. Rituparna Das, who made the Bengaluru final, missed out.
The new women’s doubles pair of Rutaparna Panda and Arathi Sara Sunil, who won in Bengaluru and lost in the semis in Hyderabad – also made the squad. They will join India’s premier women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy in the squad.
There are two men’s doubles pairs in the team – Chirag Shetty/Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy. Both pairs were automatic picks after being exempted from playing the selection tournaments.
Pranaav Jerry Chopra, who plays mixed doubles with Sikki Reddy, is also in the squad. Satwik and Ashwini will also double up as the second mixed doubles pair.
The selection committee met in Bengaluru on Monday to select the squad. According to a BAI press release, selectors kept in mind the consistency and fitness of the players over six months period, as well report of coaches from the training camps and competitions.
“To keep the selection process fair and transparent, certain criteria were set by the selection panel with key being the points earned by each player from the two qualification domestic tournaments,” said BAI President Himanta Biswa Sarma.
“Wherever the scores of two players were same, their head-to-head performances were considered before finalising the names,” he added.
“We have put together a very strong team and are very optimistic of our chances in the Asian Games,” said BAI General Secretary Ajay Singhania. “The mix of youth and experience for sure will work wonders for us in team and individual events in Jakarta and hopefully will return with our best ever performance in Asiad.”
The Asian Games will begin in Indonesia from August 18, with the badminton event commencing on August 19 and will run up till August 28.