A knee injury has forced Jwala Gutta to pull out of the Asian Games. The 31-year-old, one half of the 2011 world badminton championship bronze medallist pair, suffered a sprain and has been advised complete rest for 10-14 days. But the injury has left her doubles partner Ashwini Ponnappa in a quandary.
Of the 20 names submitted to the ministry for the Asian Games, starting in Incheon on September 19, only 16 were cleared on Tuesday. The four whose names have been withdrawn are Aparna Balan, Rituparna Das, Kona Tarun and Arun Vishnu.
The Asian Games will follow the Thomas and Uber Cup format for the team championship with three singles to be followed by two doubles. With Jwala pulling out, it remains to be seen who Ashwini pairs up with in the team event.
There is a possibility of the 24-year-old doubles specialist pairing with Pradnya Gadre. The two had started playing together after Jwala took a break following the London Olympics. When Jwala and Ashwini decided to reunite late last year, Gadre started partnering N Siki Reddy. Just like they had paired up during the Uber Cup, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu may be forced to play the second doubles in Incheon too.
But the big question is whom will Ashwini pair with in the individual event. With Aparna's name withdrawn, there is no second doubles player to fall back on. Tarun is Ashwini's regular mixed doubles partner, but has not been cleared and there is a possibility of her partnering one of the four male doubles players in the Incheon squad. But her participation in the doubles comes under a cloud.