Lack of robust doubles pairs hurt India at Sudirman Cup!
There is little doubt that Indian badminton is gradually picking up the ‘performance’ ladder triggering a general feeling that the country is on the cusp of emerging as a serious world badminton force. Quite obviously, when a country have three players in the top-15 in men’s singles and two players in the top-15 in women’s singles coupled with as many as six-to-seven players consistently featuring in the top-15, it does not leave any doubt in anyone’s doubt that the sport is indeed taking off.
Gone are those days when India would get overawed by the sheer prospect of facing the Chinese, Koreans, Malaysians, Japanese, Indonesians or even the Danes. The recent years have witnessed umpteen occasions when our shuttler have spiked the guns of top shuttlers.
Given this upbeat scenario, it was nothing less than a disappointment to see our downbeat effort in the recently-held Sudirman Cup. The country lacks strong doubles pairs, especially in men’s doubles and mixed doubles and it was strikingly evident at the Sudirman Cup, where this doubles loophole did us in.
Featured in Group 1D alongside Malaysia and Korea, the going was always going to be tough. To be fair to the Indians, they put up a strong fight against the Malaysians in their opening game. Saina Nehwal won her women’s singles match, while the women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa also won their match, but the failure of men’s singles player K Srikanth as well as the men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy B and mixed doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy and Arun Vishnu hurt the team badly. The result could have been in India’s favour if India had the ammunition in men’s doubles and mixed doubles – clearly an area India need to work on for the future.
The second and concluding game against Korea was one-sided with India barring Saina’s win failing to win any of their matches, handing a 4-1 win to their opponents. Parupalli Kashyap replaced K Srikanth in the men’s singles and the mixed doubles saw with Manu Attri replacing Arun Vishnu with N Sikki Reddy, but the change in team composition had little bearing on the final outcome as Korea ran roughshod over India.
If there is any lesson to be learned from the Sudirman Cup experience, the country need to groom robust doubles pair – especially in men’s doubles and mixed doubles if India are to do well in big-ticket team competitions. Having top singles players is not just enough to corner glory in such high-profile team competitions.