Saina Nehwal is among shuttlers who will be skipping the national badminton trials for the Asian Mixed Team Championships, to be held in Dubai from February 14 to 19.
Former world No. 1 Saina was named along with Aakarshi Kashyap and Malvika Bansod for the trials.
The senior selection committee of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) had named them to pick the second women’s singles player who will join double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu in the squad for the Asian meet.
However, Saina and Malvika both have decided to skip the trials.
“Saina and Malvika have informed BAI about their unavailability for the trials. Hence, Ashmita Chaliha has been invited for the trials. There are few other pull outs as well,” a BAI source said.
With both Saina and Malvika not available, it will be a fight between Aakarshi and Ashmita.
Saina endured a tough 2022, battling multiple injuries and a lack of form that saw her slump to world number 31.
The 32-year-old had skipped the selection trials for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in April last year to manage her workload after returning from three weeks of European events.
The selection committee has decided to give singles players Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy, PV Sindhu and men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Ranikreddy and Chirag Shetty direct entry into the squad based on their superior world rankings.
The committee, which had a virtual meeting on December 25, decided to pick the rest of the 14-member team during the trials, which have now been turned into a one-day affair following the unavailability of players.
It is also learnt that MR Arjun has suffered an injury and will not be available for the trials, making the race for the men’s doubles spot a knockout contest between Krishna Prasad Garga/Vishnuvardhan Goud P and Ishaan Bhatnagar/Sai Patheek K.
The winner will join Satwik and Chirag in the team.
Former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist pairing of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will also be not available for the trials as they had parted ways a few months back.
Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships will be the third edition of the biennial event.