Prajakta questions selection of Indian team for SAG, BAI denies any favouritism

The BAI denied Prajakta Sawant's allegations favouritism, saying the players were picked on the basis of a set of selection criteria.

Sawant questioned the selection of the team for the South Asian Games.   -  S. Ramesh Kurup

Doubles player Prajakta Sawant on Saturday slammed the selection of the Indian badminton team for the South Asian Games (SAG) in Nepal, saying players who don’t even feature in the domestic tournaments have been picked for the regional multi-sporting event.

The Badminton Association of India (BAI), however, denied any allegations of favouritism, saying the players were picked on the basis of a set of selection criteria.

In a series of tweets, Sawant questioned the selection of the team and urged BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma to look into the matter.

“SAF (sic SAG) Games team for Badminton is already decided unofficially.. players are putting stories on Instagram and Facebook of arriving at Nepal. On what basis the selection has been done?? @himantabiswa @BAI_Media,” Sawant wrote on her twitter handle.

“Players from Gopichand academy are only supposed to play for Indian team?? who doesn’t even participate in All India tournaments and are selected directly to the Indian team? @BAI_Media @himantabiswa. please answer.”

However, Sarma made it clear that there was no favouritism in the selection of the team.

“BAI selects team for tournaments on the basis of a set criteria. Team for South Asian Games have also been selected as per set criteria which is in consonance with the affidavit filed by BAI in Delhi and Kerala High court. No favour has been given to any one,” Sarma told PTI.

According to the entries on the official SAG website, women’s doubles players Kuhoo Garg, Meghana Jakkampudi and Anoushka Parikh found a place in the 11-member Indian team but Shikha Gautam and Ashwini Bhat K, who had claimed their maiden National Championship title early this year, were ignored.

Sawant described the omission of the Shikha and Ashwini as “injustice”.

“Injustice is happening again and again, Nationals champions of Woman doubles 2019 are not included in Indian team for SAF Games ... Teams are sent for tournaments before it’s officially announced what the @BAI_Media and @himantabiswa is doing,” she tweeted.

The team event will begin on Sunday, while the individual competition is scheduled to start on December 3.

In the last edition held in Guwaharti, India had claimed both the gold and silver medals in all five categories -- men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles -- besides winning the men’s and women’s team events.