Young Indian shuttlers impress ahead of 2018 Asian Games

Young shuttlers Siril Verma and Ashmita Chaliha finished in pole position in their respective categories after going through tough competition in the All India Senior Ranking Badminton Tournament at the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Former Junior World No.1 Siril Verma was up against Sourabh Verma in the Men’s singles final. Sourabh started the match on a high winning the first game 21-18, but Siril came back strongly in the next game, clinching it 21-16. With the scores level at 1-1, it was task cut out for the World Junior Championships runners-up, and he delivered it. Siril took the penultimate game with a scoreline of 21-8 to claim the top honours.

Also read: Badminton Asia Junior Championship 2018 squad announced

In the other tie, Ashmita scripted a victory over third-seeded Sai Utthejita Rao in the Women’s singles final match. After winning the opening game 21-16, she faltered a bit in the next game, losing it 14-21 against the defending title holder who came with a title win in Bengaluru last week. Ashmita scripted a rather unexpected upset by having the better of her opponent in the third game 21-15 and eventually winning the match.

In the doubles section, veteran Women’s player Aparna Balan paired with young Shruti K.P came back from the jaws of defeat to win the final match of the meet against Sanyogita Ghorpade and Prajakta Sawant. After losing the first game 19-21, the eventual winners overturned the match in their favour by winning the next two games 21-19 and 21-18.

Krishna Prasad G. And Dhruv Kapila outclassed Arjun George and Sanyam Shukla in straight games of 24-22 and 21-13 in the Men’s doubles final match to earn a top podium finished. Meanwhile, the duo of Nanda Gopal K. And Sanjana Santosh won the mixed doubles event inflicting a defeat over Dhruv Kapila and Meghana Jakkampudi 21-16, 13-21 and 21-17.

Asian games around the corner

The tournament was important in all aspects, by winning the title, Siril Verma and Ashmita Chalhila took a giant leap towards securing a spot in India’s squad for the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games. Sourabh Verma and Uttejitha Rao who were firm favourites to make a cut, will now find it difficult to get selected for the showpiece event.

Due to his impressive form, Sourabh Verma is in contention for a spot in the Asian Games squad along with the likes of Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Sameer Verma and Sai Praneeth. But with the outcome of the tournament, the selectors might look into the prospects of having youngsters like Siril Verma and Lakshya Sen in the squad.

On the other hand, there were only three spots left in the Women’s singles squad, which is now likely to be occupied by Ashmita Chaliha and Uttejita Rao. The remaining spot may be filled by Rituparna Das, Vaishnavi Jakka Reddy or Gayatri Gopichand.

With an impressive performance at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier this year, Indian Badminton players will try hard to keep up the momentum, even though the Asian Games will be much more difficult as heavyweights like China and South Korea will be a part of the tournament. India won the mixed team event at the Commonwealth Games having the better of favourites Malaysia convincingly.

Ashwini Ponnappa foretells

One of India’s most experienced players; Ashwini Ponappa had already admitted that the Asian Games will be a tough ride for them. “At the international level there are no easy games as every team has quality players but yes Asian Games are more competitive than the Commonwealth Games as the top-badminton nations like China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Thailand are a part of it,” said Ponappa to the PTI.

The 28-year-old shuttler from Hyderabad played a key figure in India’s triumph in Gold Coast, which was also the nation’s first top podium finish at a team event at the Games. She is looking forward to repeating a similar performance at the Asian Games too. Regarding the matter, she said, “We finished on the podium in the last Asian Games in the women’s team event. The ultimate goal is to get gold for the nation, so most definitely yes the team is looking for a podium finish at the Asian Games.”

India has a pretty expirienced side with top-ranked players like Kidambi Srikanth, Sai Praneeth, P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal in the roster. It is promising to be a sensational contest In Indonesia when they take on the other formidable opponents from the Asian region. The 2018 Jakarta Asian Games is scheduled to start on August 18 and conclude on September 2.