Saina Nehwal, Malvika Bansod opt out of Asia Championships trials

A 14-person Indian squad will be chosen at the tryouts to compete in the forthcoming Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships in Dubai from February 14 to 19.
Olympic medalist Saina Nehwal
Olympic medalist Saina Nehwal ANI

NEW DELHI: Olympic medalist Saina Nehwal and rising star Malvika Bansod on Monday opted out of the national tryouts for the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships 2023.

A 14-person Indian squad will be chosen at the tryouts to compete in the forthcoming Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships in Dubai from February 14 to 19.

The trials, which were originally scheduled to take place over two days on January 2 and 3, have been reduced to a single day by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) due to withdrawals.

Due to their superior BWF World Rankings, PV Sindhu, Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy, and the men's doubles team of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairak Rankireddy all received automatic admission into the squad.

Saina Nehwal, who won bronze at the London 2012 Olympics, has struggled with her form of late and only advanced to one quarterfinal out of the 14 tournaments she competed in 2022.

The previous world champion last claimed victory on the BWF World Tour in 2019 when she defeated Carolina Marin to claim the Indonesia Masters crown. Since then, Saina's rankings have plummeted, and she is now ranked 31st in women's singles.

In the tryouts, Saina was expected to square off against up-and-comers in Aakarshi Kashyap and Malvika Bansod in an effort to replace PV Sindhu as the team's second women's singles player, as per the Olympics website.

However, Bansod, too, decided to pull out of the trials, leaving only Aakarshi. Aakarshi has been invited to compete with Ashmita Chaliha for the position.

There have additionally been other withdrawals. MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila won't participate in the trials as the forner is injured. Due to the unavailability of the pair, Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will be joined by the winner of the trial match between Krishna Prasad Garga-Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala and Ishaan Bhatnagar-Sai Patheek K.

Former bronze medalists from the Commonwealth Games, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy, will not compete in the trials as they split up a few months ago.

There are two slots up for grabs in women's doubles, and the world's number 17 team of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand will be the favourites to win one of them. Ashwini Bhatt-Shikha Gautam and Haritha Manazhiyil-Ashna Roy will compete for the other.

The pairs vying for the mixed doubles spot are Ishaan Bhatnagar-Tanisha Crasto and the recently created team of Rohan Kapoor-N Sikki Reddy.

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