Two-time Commonwealth Games champion Saina Nehwal is among the shuttlers who will skip the national trials for the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships to be held in Dubai from February 14 to 19.
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Former number one Saina was part of the trials along with Aakarshi Kashyap and Malvika Bansod. The names of all three were shortlisted for the senior selection committee to pick the second women’s singles player at the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships event. However, both Saina and Malvika announced not to participate in the trials. Aakarshi and Ashmita Chaliha will now compete for selection in singles.
Saina had a tough 2022 as she battled multiple injuries and a lack of form. That saw her slip to 31st in the world rankings. She was also not available for the 2022 Commonwealth Games selection trials in April last year to manage her workload. The selection committee decided to give direct entry to singles players Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy, PV Sindhu, and men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty on the basis of their best world rankings.
A source in the Badminton Association of India (BAI) said Saina and Malvika informed BAI about their unavailability for the trials. So Ashmita Chaliha will perticipate for the trials. Meanwhile, the pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will also not be available for the trials. The pair had parted ways a few months back. Two spots will be up for grabs in the women’s doubles with Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand leading the race. The other two pairs in the trials are Ashwini Bhatt-Shikha Gautam and Haritha Manazhiyil-Ashna Roy.
Meanwhile, the committee held a virtual meeting on December 25. In that meeting, they decided to select other members of the 14-member squad from the trials. Now, they will do the trial in one day only due to the non-availability of players. MR Arjun will also not be a part of the trials due to injury, leading to a knockout tie for the men’s doubles spot between Krishna Prasad Garga-Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala and Ishaan Bhatnagar-Sai Patheek K. The winning pair will join Satwik-Chirag in the team. Ishaan Bhatnagar-Tanisha Crasto and the new pair of Rohan Kapoor-N Sikki Reddy will have options for a spot in the mixed doubles.