NEW DELHI: Two-time Commonwealth Games champion Saina Nehwal is among commuters who will skip national badminton trials for the Asian Mixed Team Championshipswhich will be held in Dubai from February 14 to 19.
Former world number 1 Saina has been named with Aakarshi Kashyap and Malvika Bansod for the tests. The senior selection committee named them to choose the second women’s singles player to join the two-time Olympic medalist PV Sindhu in the team for the Asian meeting.
However, both Saina and Malvika decided to skip the tryouts.
“Saina and Malvika have informed BAI of their unavailability for the trials. Hence, Ashmita Chaliha has been invited for the trials. There are also some other withdrawals,” a Badminton Association of India (BAI) source told PTI. .
With Saina and Malvika unavailable, it will be a fight between Aakarshi and Ashmita.
Saina has endured a difficult 2022, battling multiple injuries and a lack of form which has seen her drop to world number 31.
The 32-year-old had skipped selection trials for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in April last year to manage her workload after returning from three weeks of European events.
The selection committee decided to give singles players Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy, PV Sindhu and men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Ranikreddy and Chirag Shetty direct entry into the team based on their higher world ranking.
The committee, which met virtually on December 25, decided to choose the rest of the 14-member squad in a trial, which has now turned into a one-day affair following the unavailability players.
It is also learned that MR Arjun has suffered an injury and will not be available for trials, making the race for the men’s doubles a knockout match between Krishna Prasad Garga-Vishnuvardhan Goud P and Ishaan Bhatnagar-Sai Patheek K.
The winner will join Satwik and Chirag on the team.
Former Commonwealth Games bronze medalists Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will also not be available for trials as they parted ways a few months ago.
There are two places at stake in the women’s doubles, with the world number 17 pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand leading the way. The other two pairs from the trials are Ashwini Bhatt and Shikha Gautam, and Haritha Manazhiyil and Ashna Roy.
In mixed doubles, it will be a choice between Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto and the new pair of Rohan Kapoor and Sikki Reddy for a place.
The Asian Mixed Team Badminton Championships will be the third edition of the biennial event. The 2021 edition was supposed to be held in Wuhan, China, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
India lost to Thailand 2-3 in the quarter-finals in 2017 and failed to qualify for the knockout stage in 2019.


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