BAI bar on players skipping India duty

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The Badminton Association of India (BAI) will bar entries to next few tournaments for players refusing national duty without a valid reason.

Players skipping team competitions such as Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Thomas and Uber Cups and Sudirman Cup will not be allowed to play in the next few Open tournaments, it was decided at a meeting of the six-member national selection committee on Thursday.

“Players are taking too many things for granted,” said a national selector who did not wish to be named given the sensitive nature of the issue. Some top players refusing to be quarantined at the SAI-Gopichand academy which led to the cancellation of the Thomas and Uber Cup preparatory camps too has irked BAI.

The squad for the Denmark Open and Denmark Masters in Odense, scheduled after the Thomas and Uber Cups, therefore, has six players: Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen, PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy.

B Sai Praneeth, HS Pronnoy and Sameer Verma who wanted to play the tournaments but not the cups were informed that they cannot pick and choose. Sindhu too had withdrawn from Uber Cup but changed her mind after talking to BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma.

In June, BAI had issued showcause notices to Kidambi Srikanth and Prannoy for leaving the squad during the Badminton Asia Team Championships and flying to Barcelona for a tournament. India lost to Indonesia in the semi-finals and had to be content with bronze.

TOPS tag needed

It was also decided at the meeting that only players in the Target Olympic Podium Schemes (for Tokyo Olympics and 2024 Olympics) would be part of the national squad for tournaments. Other players will have to manage their own funding. Parupalli Kashyap, Subhankar Dey, doubles combination of Manu Attri and B Summeeth Reddy, who are in the Thomas and Uber Cup squads, will have to fund themselves in the Super 750 tournaments.