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All India Senior Ranking Tournament 2018: Siril Verma, Ashmita Chaliha win titles in Hyderabad, enter Asian Games selection mix

Sagnik Kundu
FEATURED COLUMNIST
News
539   //    24 Jun 2018, 20:19 IST

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Siril Verma

Former Junior World No. 1 Siril Verma and Assam girl Ashmita Chaliha entered the Asian Games selection mix after claiming titles in their respective categories at the All India Senior Ranking Badminton Tournament that concluded in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Both the shuttler beat tournament favourites with Siril overcoming Sourabh Verma and Ashmita getting the better of Sai Uttejitha Rao in the finals at the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy.

Although Siril did go on to win the match, it was Sourabh who was off to a better start and at one time, was in a winning position. Sourabh was a game up and was enjoying a healthy 4-point advantage over the 2016 Chinese Taipei Masters winner at 8-4.

However, Siril rallied back and went on to level the scores, take the game and force a decider. By the time the third game was underway, Sourabh, who won the title in Bengaluru last week, was beginning to tire out. He was playing his 20th match in two weeks, having reached the finals of consecutive senior ranking tournaments.

Sourabh, by virtue of his superb run, is in the pole position to book the last remaining men’s singles spot in India’s Asian Games squad, after Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma. However, the selectors might consider Siril or 16-year-old Lakshya Sen with an eye on the future.

Elsewhere, in women’s singles, Ashmita pulled off an upset victory over India No. 3 Uttejitha in the final. The 18-year-old left-handed shuttler went on to beat Uttejitha, who was the winner in Bengaluru, 21-16, 14-21, 21-15.

In the first game, Ashmita fought back from 8-11 but in the second, Uttejitha regained her composure and took a 7-1 lead before eventually going on to win 21-14 and force a decider. The third game saw Uttejitha took a 10-6 lead early on. However, Ashmita claimed the next six points and then, run away with the match and the title.

Ashmita's game plan was simple, not to engage in long rallies. Uttejitha took her time to settle down which cost her the first game. Then, she committed quite a few unforced errors towards the end of the third which helped Ashmita win.

With three spots available in the Asian Games women's singles squad, both Uttejitha and Ashmita confirmed their selection. The third spot could be a toss-up between Rituparna Das, Vaishnavi Jakka Reddy and Gayatri Gopichand.

Over to the women's doubles, Aparna Balan and Sruthi KP claimed the title, after coming back from a game down to beat Prajakta Sawant and Sanyogita Ghorpade 19-21, 21-19, 21-18. Now, this is a major headache for the selection committee as they will have to pick between Aparna/Sruthi and Rutaparna Panda/Arathi Sunil, who had won in Bengaluru.

In men's doubles, up and coming doubles paur Krishna Prasad Garaga and Dhruv Kapila, beat top seeds Arun George and Sanyam Shukla 24-22, 21-13 in the final while in mixed doubles, K Nandagopal and Sanjana Santosh won the title, beating Dhruv Kapila and Meghana Jakkampudi 21-16, 13-21, 21-17 in the final.

Regardless, there is no spot available for men’s doubles and mixed doubles in India’s squad for the Asian Games.

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Sagnik Kundu
FEATURED COLUMNIST
I spend every day at office wondering how they got the table through the door.
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