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Unnati makes it to senior team as BAI selects squads for CWG, Asiad, Thomas & Uber Cup

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New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) The 14-year-old teenage sensation from Rohtak, Unnati Hooda caught the selectors’ eyes as she secured a place in the Indian senior squads for the Asian Games and Uber Cup.

Unnati made the grade by finishing third in the women’s singles after Aakarshi Kashyap and Ashmita Chaliha, who claimed first and second positions respectively. Unnati is the youngest Indian badminton player to be part of the Asian Games squad.

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Following six days of competitions and nail-biting action in the selection trials at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) on Thursday announced strong Indian contingents to participate in the upcoming Thomas & Uber Cup, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

For the Commonwealth Games, the men’s team consists of Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty and B. Sumeeth Reddy while PV Sindhu will lead the women’s squad which has Aakarshi, Treesa Jolly, Gayatri P and Ashwini Ponappa.

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Sumeet Reddy and Ponappa made the cut into the men’s and women’s squads respectively for the Commonwealth Games after their top-place finish in the mixed doubles category.

A 10-member women’s team for the Asian Games and Uber Cup will consist of PV Sindhu, Aakarshi, Ashmita, and Unnati alongside the top-3 doubles pairs from the trials-Treesa Jolly-Gayatri P, N Sikki Reddy — Ashwini Ponappa and Tanisha Crasto and Shruti Mishra.

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Sindhu, Sen, Srikanth and the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj and Shetty were awarded direct entry into the squads for their world rankings inside Top-15. In-form shuttler HS Prannoy has also been included as part of the automatic selection for his consistently impressive recent form at the international circuit.

Priyanshu Rajawat, who claimed the top spot in the men’s singles category, also made his way into the 10-men contingent for the Asian Games and Thomas Cup alongside Sen, Srikanth and Prannoy. The team also has Satwiksairaj and Shetty and the top-2 doubles pairs from the trials-Dhruv Kapila-MR Arjun and Vishnu Vardhan Goud-Krishna Prasad Gariga.

“We are delighted with the energy of the selection trials. All the players gave everything on the court to earn themselves a chance to represent the country. It’s great to see high-quality competition for the positions. I congratulate all the players and wish them good luck with their preparations for the mega events,” said Sanjay Mishra, General Secretary of BAI, after the selection meeting that ended late on Wednesday night.

“This new format for the trials was developed to provide a platform where the senior, as well as young players, can have opportunities and now you can now see the squads are a great mix of youth and experience and I am sure each of them will make the most of this opportunity and make India proud,” Mishra added.

The trials saw the participation of 120 players in the five categories as the league-cum-round robin format tested the ability of the players in each stage from April 15-20, the BAI informed in a release on Thursday.

Apart from the squads for the three major tournaments which are to be held this year, the BAI also finalised the names of 40 players (20 men and 20 women) for the senior national coaching camp and core group for the 2024 Olympic Games, based on players’ positions in trials.

The 32nd edition of the Thomas Cup and 29th Uber Cup are scheduled in Bangkok from May 8-15 while the 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2022 Asian Games will kickstart in Birmingham and Hangzhou respectively from July 28 and September 10.

INDIAN SQUADS:

Commonwealth Games:

(Men) Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty and B Sumeeth Reddy.

(Women) PV Sindhu, Aakarshi Kashyap, Treesa Jolly, Gayatri P, Ashwini Ponappa.

Asian Games and Thomas & Uber Cup:

Men) Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Priyanshu Rajawat, Chirag Shetty, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Dhruv Kapila, MR Arjun, Vishnu Vardhan Goud, Krishna Prasad Gariga

(Women) PV Sindhu, Aakarshi Kashyap, Ashmita Chaliha, Unnati Hooda, Treesa Jolly, Gayatri P, N Sikki Reddy, Ashwini Ponappa, Tanisha Crasto and Shruti Mishra

–IANS

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