Rio Olympics 2016: A win against Lin Dan would be a mammoth task but Kidambi Srikanth is up for it
Kidambi Srikanth the Guntur-born lad from India who ousted the Danish veteran Jan O Jorgenson by 21-19, 21-19 in the pre-quarter finals matchup will be up against the Double Olympic Gold Medalist “Super Dan” from China in his quarter-final encounter.
The lanky guy who is a former super series champion capitalised on the error-prone game of Jan O Jorgenson in the first set by using his deceptive gameplay at the back of the court and in the end sealed the set in his favour with spot-on cross court smashes. Even though the Dane showed his technical superiority over the net in the next set, Kidambi fought hard to remain levelled and maintained his composure till the end to take the set and match in his kitty with a margin of 21-19, 21-19.
Srikanth had some easy outings during the group phase matches but he has to be at the peak of his best from now on to get some redemption for India at the Rio Olympics with most of our athletes falling under pressure at critical junctures.
Though It must be a rejoicing fact for the Indian fans that Srikanth has managed to outplay Lin Dan by a riveting scoreline of 21-19, 21-17 during the last meet-up between the two in the Men Singles Finals at China Open Badminton two years back but the Chinese warhorse has bounced back this year by giving clinical performances in the All-England Championship and German Open Badminton and will not be an easy opponent.
Kidambi is a naturally gifted player with swift moments, strong defence and a good jump smash which makes up for his lack of net play. He is a protégé of the Gopichand Academy, a pioneer badminton academy in India started by the former All England Champion Pullela Gopichand which produced champions like Saina Nehwal.
Srikanth will surely try to emulate the same spirit and passion shown by Saina in London in his first Olympic appearance by making giant strides for Indian Badminton as he will be up against history to become the first Indian male badminton player to reach the semi-finals of the Olympics.
Can Srikanth overcome inconsistency?
The major bone of contention among the experts is that Srikanth is quite inconsistent on the BWF Super Series and Grand Prix circuit which is proven by the fact that he had a very unforgettable 2015-2016 season with his most recent victory coming on home turf during the Indian Open Super Series in the beginning of 2015.
On the other hand, his much-fancied opponent has quite a year to remember with memorable victories coming at tournaments like China Masters where he dismantled the top seed and fellow compatriot Chen Long in the finals managing a victory in consecutive sets 21-17, 23-21.
Srikanth who is the first Indian male badminton player to feature at the season-ending Dubai World Super Series Finals is also the only Indian to be ranked as high as No. 3 in the BWF World Rankings. Going into the match Srikanth will surely receive a billing of being an underdog but if he can be at his offensive best by hitting those sweet smashes down the line as he did in his quarter-final clash then it will surely be interesting to see this modern David v Goliath tale.
Every avid sports fan and badminton buff would surely be expecting Srikanth to spring up a surprise and if the Indian can deploy a different and unique strategy to overcome his weakness in net play then this dream can easily turn into reality.
Srikanth’s on-court demeanour is quite cool and composed and if he remains at a level during those tense moments in the match, he can be a tough nut crack for Lin Dan.
We all might have witnessed a slump in Srikanth’s form last year but going by the current spate of performances, Srikanth has performed beyond expectations with flashes of brilliance visible in his style of play and it needs to be seen that if he can carry this form in the quarter-final clash and well if he can then this might surely be the end of the deadlock for India this time in Rio.