Kiran George, Malvika Bansod grab top rankings in selection trials
Kiran George and Malvika Bansod emerged as the top ranked singles players after the selection trials for the Sudirman Cup and Thomas and Uber Cup
Kiran George and Malvika Bansod emerged as the top ranked players in the respective men's and women's singles categories after the selection trials for the Sudirman Cup and Thomas and Uber Cup finals on Wednesday. The four-day trials were held under a new format employed by the Badminton Association of India (BAI). The players were ranked based on their performance before the selectors meet in a few days to pick the teams for the upcoming events.
Most of the juniors toppled the seniors during the trials with Commonwealth Games bronze-medallists N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa finishing second behind Tanisha Crastro and Rituparna Panda in one of the major results. In men''s singles, former world no 11 Sameer Verma and former world no 13 Ajay Jayaram were ranked second and third, followed by Rahul Yadav C, 2018 SaarLorLux Open champion Subhankar Dey, Priyanshu Rajawat, Sai Charan Koya, former top 10 player HS Prannoy, Karthikeya Gulshan and Mithun M. World No 24 Lakshya Sen opted out after losing to Sai Charan Koya in group A.
In women''s singles, Aditi Bhat and 16-year-old Tasnim Mir, who won the Bulgarian Junior Open International recently, were ranked second and third, followed by Sruthi Mundada, Samiya Imad Farooqi, Ira Sharma, Riya Mukherjee, Ahsmita Chaliha, Purva Barve, Unnati Bisht. Gayatri Gopichand, daughter of chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, and her women''s doubles partner Tressa Jolly were placed third, followed by 2019 national champions Shikha Goutam and Ashwini Bhat, Sahithi Bandi and Shruthi and Ramya Tulasi and Shivani.
In men's doubles, Dhruv Kapila and Arjun MR and Krishna Prasad G and Vishnu Vardhan G P were ranked second and third, followed by Sumeeth Reddy B/S Ghouse, Arjun George/Sanyam Shukla and Navneeth B/Sai Krishna Kumar P completing the top 5. "As a result of the pandemic, players have been left with negligible international events as well as no domestic tournaments for more than a year now and most of the players are without sufficient match practice," BAI said in a release.
According to the national federation 80 players took part in the trials across the four categories. "...a robust format was used to judge performances of the players in the absence of any tournaments. The new format also ensured both elite and domestic players are provided with adequate opportunities to prove their mettle," the BAI stated.
"Based on the rankings, selectors will soon meet to pick the final squad for the Sudirman Cup (10 members) and Thomas & Uber Cup (20 members)." The prestigious Sudirman Cup Mixed Team Championship is scheduled to be held in Vantaa, Finland from September 26 to October 3, followed by Thomas and Uber Cup from October 9 to 17 at Aarhus in Denmark.
According to the new format, players were divided into eight groups: 4 with three players and other 4 groups with two players in it. Top players of all eight groups progressed into the knockouts stage. Four winners of the knockout stage were then grouped together as they competed against each other in a round-robin format to decide rankings from 1 to 4. Similarly, losing four players of the knockout stage also were grouped together as they fought for the rankings from 5 to 8.
In the next phase, the remaining 12 players from the group stage were divided into four groups and they played round-robin matches in their respective groups. Top players from each of these 4 groups were placed together in a new group as they competed in a round-robin format for rankings from 9 to 12. Second-placed players were grouped together and played against each other to decide rankings from 13-16. Similarly, third-place players fought for rankings from 17-20.
Two-time Olympic medallist P V Sindhu, 2012 London Games bronze winner Saina Newhal, Tokyo Olympian B Sai Praneeth, 2016 Rio Olympics quarterfinalist Kidambi Srikanth and world No. 10 Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy were exempted from the trials and have been selected directly for the two events.