World No 24 HS Prannoy will lead a 13-member Indian badminton team at the Tong Yun Kai Cup 2019, the second edition of the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships to be held at Hong Kong from March 19-24.
In the absence of top shuttlers Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth, all of whom have been rested, Prannoy has been entrusted with the responsibility to lead a young Indian team.
The troika of Saina, Sindhu and Srikanth have been rested ahead of the upcoming India Open. In its bid to give exposure to talented youngsters, the Badminton Association of India has selected seven young shuttlers in the women’s squad for the upcoming event, to be headed by Assam’s wonderkid Ashmita Chaliha.
The 19-year-old prodigy from Assam already has a couple of BWF titles under her name and even reached the semi-finals of the Nationals this year.
She will be supported by Nagpur shuttler Vaishnavi Bhale, who was in last year’s Uber Cup team. Bhale too proved her credentials by grabbing a bronze medal at the Nationals in Guwahati.
Shikha Gautam and Ashwini K Bhat have also made it to the team by virtue of their fine show at the Nationals, where the duo won the women’s doubles title.
Rutaparna Panda, Arathi Sara Sunil and UK Mithula are the other selected members in the women’s team.
Among men, 2018 Asian Championships bronze medallist Prannoy has three-time national champion Sourabh Verma for company in the six-member squad.
World no 45 pair of MR Arjun and Shlok Ramchandran, who won the silver medal at the Nationals, will be spearheading the Indian challenge in men’s doubles along with Arun George and Sanyam Shukla.
Eleven teams have been divided into four groups in this six-day biennial competition.
The India team has been placed in Group B along side Chinese Taipei and Singapore. The top two teams from each group will advance to the quarter-finals.
India reached the quarter-finals in the last edition, where they lost narrowly to Thailand.
Men: HS Prannoy, Sourabh Verma, MR Arjun, Shlok Ramchandran, Arun George, Sanyam Shukla.
Women: Ashmita Chaliha, Vaishnavi Bhale, Shikha Gautam, Ashwini K Bhat, Rutaparna Panda, Arathi Sara Sunil, UK Mithula.