Asia Team C’ship: India field full-strength men’s team, young brigade to lead women

India will field a full-strength men’s team at the Asia Team Championships but the women’s side will be led by young shuttlers Ashmita Chaliha and Malvika Bansod after Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu decided to give it a miss.

Saina and Sindhu skipped the event to focus on Olympic qualification. The duo already have points from last year’s Sudirman Cup and won’t benefit much even if they play the continental Championships which will be held in Manila, Philippines from February 11 to 16.

The men’s team, which won the bronze in Hyderabad in 2016, will be led by World Championship bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth with former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Subhankar Dey and Lakshya Sen also in the squad.

In the women’s squad, Akarshi Kashyap and Gayatri Gopichand also made the cut, apart from Ashmita and Malvika.

Ashmita, a South Asian Games gold medallist, and Malvika had played the finals of the selection tournament in Goa (January 14 to 19), while Akarshi Kashyap and Gayatri Gopichand featured in the summit clash in Bangalore (January 7 to 12) to make it to the team.

In doubles events, the fast-improving pair of Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun would look to impress and also compliment Thailand Open champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty in the team championships.

Senior national champions Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam along with the experienced K Maneesha and Rutaparna Panda make up the doubles combinations.

Squad:

Men: B Sai Praneeth, K Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Subhankar Dey, Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun.

Women: Ashmita Chaliha, Aakarshi Kashyap, Malvika Bansod, Gayatri Gopichand, Ashwini Bhat, Shikha Gautam, Rutaparna Panda and K Maneesha.