Dhruv Rawat and Amit Rathore, Malvika Bansod and Aakarshi Kashyap have been given top seeding in badminton singles draw in the inaugural Khelo India School Games here. It would be a treat to watch the young guns compete in the badminton competition scheduled be held at the India Gandhi Indoor Stadium from February 5 to 8.

Uttarakhand lad Dhruv Rawat (Sharda Public School, Almora) has been pegged as a favourite in the boys’ competition, ranked third in the Badminton Association of India (BAI) under-19 list. With a fair bit of international experience under his belt, he will enter the School Games with a positive sentiment. His challengers will find it tough to upset his applecart.

Madhya Pradesh’s Amit Rathore, seeded second, is hoping to challenge the top-seeded Rawat, who got the better of him when they last played an under-17 match and keep the National under-17 champion Maisnam Meiraba at bay this time around. Rathore hopes to produce edge-of-the-seat performance when he revives his on-court rivalry with these lads.

“I am excited to be participating in the Khelo India School Games. I will play my natural game. I will have a few practice sessions before I hit the court. I’m looking forward to it,” said Maisnam Meiraba, who holds the numero uno spot at the Boys under-17 rankings and is seeded fourth at KISG.

Malvika Bansod (Nagpur), who currently trails Aakarshi Kashyap (Chhattisgarh) in the BAI under-19 girls’ rankings, has been awarded the top seeding in the draw in KISG. Ranked third, Malvika Bansod has had a great run-up to the KISG by winning an all-India senior ranking tournament in Bareilly recently.

“I have great expectations from Khelo India. It is a good opportunity and quite a big event. It feels positive to be the top seed and shows that you’ve been selected best, that you have to deliver. It is indeed a big boost and I know I have to perform well,” an excited Malvika Bansod shared.

Aakarshi Kashyap, too, had an eventful 2017. She picked up a double crown in National Junior Championships in Guwahati last month by registering emphatic victories in under-17 and under-19 events. She defended her under-17 title by beating Malvika Bansod. In the Nationals Championships a month earlier, Aakarshi Kashyap drew attention by giving a fight to 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal in the quarterfinals.

She managed all these achievements without a full-time coach, training all by herself in Bhilai until recently but will soon make her way to Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru.

Clearly, a showdown between these two will set the court ablaze.