Sudirman, Thomas, Uber Cup badminton: Kiran George, Malvika Bansod set to make India squads

The youngsters topped the selection trials held in Hyderabad and are likely to join Olympic medallists PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal in the India squads.

By Rahul Venkat
Picture by BAI Media

Young Indian badminton players Kiran George and Malvika Bansod topped the Badminton Association of India (BAI)’s selection trials in the men’s and women’s singles categories, respectively.

The trials were held to determine the form of the players and provide some match practice for those who have not played a lot recently.

The rankings in the trials, hosted at the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad over the past week, will also be used to shortlist the Indian squads for the Sudirman, Thomas and Uber Cups.

The BAI used a group-stage and knockout system to determine the rankings for the men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles and women’s doubles categories.

Kiran George was ranked first ahead of more experienced players like Sameer Verma (second) and Ajay Jayaram (third). Lakshya Sen pulled out of the trials after one match.

Malvika Bansod came out on top from a young field in women’s singles, with Aditi Bhat and Tasnim Mir finishing second and third in the rankings, respectively.

The pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila topped the men’s doubles ranking while Tanisha Castro and Rituparna Panda were No. 1 in the women’s doubles ahead of veteran pair Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy.

Gayatri Gopichand, daughter of Pullela Gopichand, and her partner Tressa Jolly came third in women’s doubles.

Olympic medallists PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, along with B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth and the pair of Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy have already been picked for the Sudirman, Thomas and Uber Cup squads.

The rest of the squad for the three tournaments remains to be decided.

The Sudirman Cup, a mixed-team badminton tournament, will be played in Vantaa, Finland from September 26 to October 3. India have been drawn in Group A with China, Thailand and Finland for the Sudirman Cup.

The Thomas Cup is the men’s team world championships tournament and the Uber Cup is the women’s team world championships event. Both will be played from October 9 to October 17 in Denmark.

India have been drawn alongside China, the Netherlands and Tahiti in Group C for the Thomas Cup while India’s Uber Cup opponents in Group B will be Thailand, Spain and Scotland.

All three team tournaments were called off in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.