India’s new-look squad for Commonwealth, Asian Games

India’s squad for the 2022 Commonwealth Games appears set after the conclusion of the Badminton Association of India selection processes on Wednesday, which also determined the squad for the Asian Games and the Thomas/Uber Cups, as well as a core group for the 2024 Olympics.

The CWG team consists of Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen in Men’s Singles, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy – Chirag Shetty in Men’s Doubles, PV Sindhu and Aakarshi Kashyap in Women’s Singles, Gayatri Gopichand – Treesa Jolly in Women’s Doubles and B Sumeeth Reddy – Ashwini Ponnappa in mixed doubles.

The women’s department in particular presents itself in new splendor after interesting results in the selection tests.

What happened at the trials?

Aakarshi Kashyap won the women’s singles, Priyanshu Rajawat the men’s singles, Treesa Jolly – Gayatri Gopichand the women’s doubles, MR Arjun – Dhruv Kapila the men’s doubles and Ashwini Ponnappa – B Sumeeth Reddy the mixed doubles.

According to a BAI release, the Thomas/Uber Cup and Asian Games will have larger rosters than the 10-man CWG. That means it’s likely that Rajawat will take the only spot available in men’s singles, while Aakarshi, Ashmita Chaliha and Unnati Hooda are likely to take the three spots available in women’s singles.

The additional spots in women’s doubles go to Ashwini Ponnappa-N Sikki Reddy and Tanisha-Shruti Mishra. Arjun-Dhruv will take the extra spot for the men’s doubles along with Krishna Prasad G and Vishnuvardhan Goud P.

The rest will be part of the National Core Group. According to the BAI, the top 8 players in men’s and women’s singles, the top 6 pairs in men’s and women’s doubles, and the top 4 mixed doubles players in the group will be selected. This will be in addition to the directly selected players.

Where were the big guns?

According to a statement from the BAI, players ranked in the top-15 in the world were selected directly, hence players such as PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen and men’s doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were automatically selected.

HS Prannoy, world no should be considered without having to take part in the trials.” He was the only player to receive such an exemption.

So who were the players called to court?

In an April 14 letter to affiliated entities, the BAI said a group of 60 players would be selected through direct selection and selection processes. The players for these trials were invited based on the Badminton World Federation ranking, the national ranking (based on the players’ performances in the ranking tournaments held in December 2021) as well as the core group selected in 2019 who are currently training in ongoing national coaching camps.

The letter was said to have been distributed on April 1st and players were asked to confirm their submissions by April 10th.

Not all invited players confirmed their entries, such as Saina Nehwal.

How was the selection process?

The process was unanimously prepared by the BAI’s selection committee “in order to offer all players equal opportunities in the fairest and most transparent manner”.

Trials were held in league format with three stages of group matches to find the best player. The women’s singles champion, Aakarshi Kashyap, for example, played and went undefeated in 7 games across the three legs.

Where was Saina Nehwal?

Before they began, the trials were the subject of some controversy last week when former world No. 1 Saina Nehwal publicly backed out of the trials, criticizing the BAI for their planning.

The selection procedures were announced on April 2nd on Twitter and a letter was sent to the players a day earlier while the Korea Open was in progress. They took place from April 15-20, which meant they clashed with Korean Masters. As per the official draw, Indian players were shown to have awarded a free kick in the Super 300 event.

Nehwal told ESPN that she chose to skip it because the timing would mean putting undue stress on her body. “Two weeks after the European tournaments and a week and a half before the Asian Championships, I didn’t want to put my body through a series of games again. I can’t take that risk,” she said. She added that she received no response from the BAI when she said she could not attend the trials (as of April 14).

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