Top shuttler B Sai Praneeth's hopes of making the Indian team for the upcoming major team events were dashed after he failed to top stage 2A group on day 3 of BAI's selection trials on Sunday. Praneeth, ranked World number 19, suffered a 21-23, 21-11, 16-21 loss to fast-rising Kiran George, who had claimed the Odisha Open Super 100 title in January.
Later in the day, Praneeth beat Ansal Yadav 21-16, 21-9 to finish second best in stage 2A group at the KD Jadhav Hall inside Indira Gandhi Stadium Complex. The trials are being held to pick teams for the Commonwealth Games, Thomas and Uber Cup and Asian Games. According to the format, only the winners of the four groups in the second stage will compete for rank 1 to 4 in a round-robin format, while the runners-up from each group will fight for 5-8 positions and third-placed players will aim for 9 to 12 positions. Praneeth will compete for rank 5 to 8 next.
Badminton Association of India has already handed direct selection to Lakshya Sen and Kidambi Srikanth as they are ranked inside top 15 and HS Prannoy on the basis of his recent performance in the international circuit. Only one men's singles player will be picked from the trials for the Asian Games and Thomas Cup. Kiran, who had made it to the team for the Sudirman Cup and Thomas Cup after topping the selection trials in September last year, looks a frontrunner to once again get selected as he continued his unbeaten run on day 3. A product of Prakash Padukone academy, George outwitted national champion Sourabh Varma 21-15 23-21 in his second match of the stage 2A group to emerge as winner.
George will now compete with Sameer Verma (winner of stage 2D), Haryana's Ravi (winner of stage 2C) and Priyanshu Rajawat (winner of stage 2B) for rank 1 to 4. A former world number 11 Sameer, who is making a comeback after recovering from a calf injury, beat Raghu M 21-12 21-11 but lost to Maisnam Meiraba 21-15, 19-21 11-21 in the third and last match of his group. Sameer was tied with Mithun Manjunath with two victories and one defeat but made it through on the basis of difference of games won and lost. Ditto for Priyanshu, who emerged as group winner after finishing with two wins and a loss like Kartikey Gulshan Kumar in stage 2B. Ravi, on the other hand, beat Alap Mishra and Arjun Rehani to emerge as winner of stage 2C group.
In women's singles, Aakarshi Kashyap, Ashmita Chaliha, Aditi Bhatt, and Unnati Hooda emerged as winners of Stage 2A, stage 2B, Stage 2C, and Stage 2D respectively and will fight for 1 to 4 positions. In women's singles, double Olympic medallist P V Sindhu has been handed a direct berth being the world number 7 and one more player will be picked for CWG team, while three positions are up for grabs for Uber Cup and Asian Games. Malvika Bansod, who had defeated Saina Nehwal at India Open, was also out of contention for a spot following her loss to Ashmita and will now compete for rank 5 to 8.