PV Sindhu’s father PV Ramana has become the latest person to criticise the Indian badminton team’s composition for the Asian Games, saying the selectors have “committed a blunder”.
The Badminton Association of India had last month announced a 20-member squad for the continental event, including 10 men and as many women. The women’s team has as many as six singles players and only two doubles pairs.
The selectors had decided to ignore Aparna Balan and Sruthi KP, who had won one of the selection tournaments for the Asian Games, and instead went for youngsters Gayatri Gopichand and Aakarshi Kashyap, who are both singles players.
“How could they pick two extra singles players and ignore the doubles pair of Aparna Balan and her partner?” Ramana was quoted as saying by The Hindu. “Gayatri and Aakarshi have a good future if given years of foreign exposure and training. At present, I see no reason to select them in the Asian Games team.”
Aparna Balan, who has won the national title nine times, had earlier filed a petition in the Kerala High Court questioning the exclusion of her and Sruthi. The grandmother of Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka, who is the third highest-ranked women’s singles player from India, filed a separate petition in the Delhi High Court over her granddaughter’s exclusion from the squad.
Reddy’s petition stated that the selection of Gayatri Gopichand, who is the daughter of chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, is “malafide, perverse, arbitrary and illegal.” Gayatri had made the squad after reaching the semi-finals and quarter-finals of the two selection tournaments for the Asian Games.
The Badminton Association of India, however, denied any conflict of interest. BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma told the daily that Gopichand had an objection with his daughter being named in the squad but the selection panel overruled him.
“The selection of each and every player including Gayatri was done purely on merit and based on consistent performances in selection tournaments,” Sarma was quoted as saying. BAI also ruled out any further tampering with the squad.