Fourteen-year-old Unnati becomes youngest shuttler in senior Indian team for Asian Games

Unnati Hooda from Rohtak Unnati Hooda caught selectors’ eyes as she secured a place for the Asian Games as well as Uber Cup by finishing third in the women’s singles.

Hooda is the youngest Indian badminton player to be part of the Asian Games squad.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The National selectors went by the laid down norms and kept Saina Nehwal out of the Indian teams for the upcoming Uber Cup besides the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games this year.

After a long selection committee meeting last evening, there were no surprises when the teams were announced on Thursday. Rohtak-based 14-year-old Unnati Hooda, who finished third in the trials, will be part of the National team for Uber Cup and Asian Games.

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As expected, Saina’s refusal to be part of the trials found no sympathisers. As a result, in the team events, this could well mark the end of the road for the former World number 1, Olympic medallist and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist. She is free to take
part as an individual in Tour events, but the Government will not fund her expenses.

"The BAI has given her allowances in the past but now that her ranking has slipped to 23 and her fitness level and form are in question for sometime, the selectors had no choice but to move on, without Saina," a BAI official told Sportstar on condition of anonymity.

Thomas Cup (for men) and Uber Cup (for women) - beginning on May 8 - and the Asian Games - starting on September 10 -  comprises three singles and two doubles. For these, the selectors chose four singles players and three pairs for doubles.

The possibility of adding Kiran George - impressive in the trials where he finished second best to Priyanshu Rajawat in men’s singles - and fourth-placed Aditi Bhatt for in women singles remains.

For the Commonwealth Games (from July 28), which has a mixed team event comprising men singles, women singles, men doubles, women doubles and mixed doubles, the selectors went with two singles players each in men and women and a pair each in men’s doubles and women
doubles. Ashwini Ponappa could form the mixed doubles combination with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy or B. Sumeeth Reddy.

As anticipated, Rajawat joined the three already-selected players, Lakshya Sen, K. Srikanth and H. S. Prannoy. In doubles, the top two finishers in the trials -  Dhruv Kapila-M. R. Arjun and Vishnu Vardhan Goud-G. Krishna Prasad joined an already country’s top pair of Satwik-Chirag Shetty while Vishnu-Krishna will accompany the team as reserves.

Similarly, joining an already-selected P. V. Sindhu were the top three finishers in the trials - Aakarshi Kashyap, Ashmita Chaliha and the 14-year-old sensation Unnati Hooda. Treesa Jolly and P. Gayatri who pushed the experienced duo of Sikki Reddy and Ashwini to the second
place in the trials form the first two choices, with Tanisha Crasto and Shruti Mishra being the reserve.

The teams

For Commonwealth Games

Men: Lakshya Sen, K. Srikanth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty and B. Sumeeth Reddy.
Women: P. V. Sindhu, Aakarshi Kashyap, Treesa Jolly-P. Gayatri and Ashwini Ponappa.

For Thomas Cup & Uber Cup and Asian Games

Men: Lakshya Sen, K. Srikanth, H. S. Prannoy and Priyanshu Rajawat. Men doubles: Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Dhruv Kapila-M. R. Arjun and Vishnu Vardhan Goud-G. Krishna Prasad. Women: P. V. Sindhu, Aakarshi Kashyap, Ashmita Chaliha and Unnati Hooda. Women doubles: Treesa Jolly-P. Gayatri, Sikki Reddy-Ashwini Ponappa and Tanisha Crasto-Shruti Mishra.

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