Badminton: Sai Praneeth, Saina Nehwal to lead Indian challenge at Thomas and Uber Cup
New Delhi, September 6, 2021
B Sai Praneeth and Saina Nehwal will spearhead the 20-member (10 women, 10 men) Indian challenge at the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals, scheduled in Denmark from October 9-17.
The two-time Olympics medalist P V Sindhu has not been included in the squad as she had requested not to be considered for the selections citing post-Olympics recovery.
Badminton Association of India (BAI) has also named a 12-member team for the Sudirman Cup slated to take place from September 26 to October 3 in Finland.
For the Uber Cup, the London Olympics bronze medalist Nehwal will be accompanied by the top 3 singles ranks from the trials—Malvika Bansod, Aditi Bhatt, and Tasnim Mir—in the 10-member women’s team alongside three doubles pairs, Tanisha Crasto and Rutuparna Panda, Ashwini Ponnappa, N.Sikki Reddy, Gayatri, and Tressa Jolly.
The 10-member men’s team for Thomas Cup comprises four singles players and three doubles pairs. Alongside Praneeth and the former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth, top 2 singles players from the trials—Kiran George and Sameer Verma—have been selected. The country’s top men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy has been selected in the team alongside top 2 ranked pairs from the trials -- Dhruv Kapila, MR Arjun, Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnu Vardhan.
The players, for the Thomas and Uber Cup and the Sudirman Cup, were selected on the basis of their performances in the recently-concluded trials apart from the automatic selections of the players/pairs, who are placed inside Top 20 in the world rankings.
“Other than the top-ranked Indians, we have selected players on the basis of their consistent show in the trials. In the absence of any tournaments, the trials and the new format helped us to zero in on the current in-form players as they have proved their abilities and have earned top rankings in the trials.
"I believe these youngsters along with the senior shuttlers will create a good combination and all the new faces will also get the much-needed experience of playing top-tier tournaments like the Thomas and Uber Cup as well as the Sudirman Cup,” BAI General Secretary Ajay Singhania said.
In the Thomas Cup, the Indian team has been placed in Group C alongside the defending champions China with The Netherlands and Tahiti being the other two teams in the group.
The women's team has been drawn in Group B along with Thailand, Spain, and Scotland in the Uber Cup.
On the other hand, in the 12-member team for the 17th edition of the Sudirman Cup, top-ranked doubles pair from the trials Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun have been named in the squad alongside Srikanth, Praneeth, and doubles pair of Satwiksairaj and Chirag, who made it into the team on the basis of their world rankings.
Among the women, Top 2 doubles pairs from the trials, Tanisha-Rutuparna and Ashwini Ponnappa-N Sikki Reddy, have been selected alongside Top 2 singles players from the trials, Bansod and Bhatt.
The biennial tournament will see the Indian team competing along with the defending champions China, Thailand, and hosts Finland in Group A.