The Indian team for the World University badminton championships in Gwangju, Korea, remained in suspense late on Sunday evening as “fresh trials” to reconstitute the team remained inconclusive here.
With barely two hours to go for the departure of the flight to Korea, there was no information as to the final composition of the team or about who could be making the first batch for the championships beginning on November 6.
In a situation where players and officials were unsure about the next step, there was news that the manager of the team, Noor Mohammed, has resigned, and the coach, M.J. Mohanachandran also wanted to quit.
The “challengers” proved a point by beating some of the initially selected players, but the final composition of the team remained in suspense even after the majority of the players left the Indira Gandhi Stadium late Sunday evening.
There was quite a drama before any match could be conducted. The “challengers” were at the Indira Gandhi indoor stadium by 1 p.m. for the 2 p.m. re-trials ordered through the intervention of the Minister of State, Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor.
With Delhi in a gridlock following a Congress rally, the chosen Indian team members reached the venue only at 3.30 p.m.
Then followed lengthy discussions among the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) Deputy Secretary, Gurdeep Singh, former international Madhumita Bisht, and Mohanachandran about the format of the fresh trials.
With hardly any time left for the players to report at the airport for the 11 p.m. Air India flight, it had to be a “challenge” format instead of a round-robin one.
Bhuvan Sethi (GNDU) and Vikramaditya (Udaipur) scored in the doubles over AIU-selected Ravi Raj Sharma and Rahul while Delhi boy Nitesh Kumar won over Jamia Millia University’s Hamad Bin Aziz, one of the selected players in the original list.
Harshvardhan Singh, son of Madhumita Bisht and Vikram Singh, and Delhi University girls Nidhi Tiwari and Shreya Aggarwal were considered good enough to be in the team though they waited for any possible trial.
The coach and the AIU selectors seemed reluctant to drop the beaten players who were getting ready to leave for Korea on Sunday.
An enquiry was made through the chief referee for the championship in Gwangju, Korea, whether India could field an expanded team of 10 or 11 boys and five girls.
For the time being at least, the team members were supposed to foot their own bill. Not more than six men and six women could be fielded, the chief referee informed.
By then, the originally-selected players had left the stadium. The “challengers”, without visa, ticket and any formal clearance, had no further clue about how to go about the task.
The departure of the initially-selected players from the stadium, without verifying who would finally be part of the team, ruled out any more trial matches to reduce numbers.
No one seemed to know whether any player would leave at all for Korea on Sunday night.
Keywords: World University badminton championship