The dearth of champion doubles players in Indian badminton
If India wants to be a force to reckon with in world badminton then India need to have shuttlers who can move faster than shuttle itself.
Indian badminton success is limited to men's and women's singles discipline only. India has champion singles players like Kidambi Srikanth, PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Prannoy HS, Sai Praneeth, Parupalli Kashyap and many more. These players have consistently proven themselves by beating the best out there.
In disciplines other than singles India doesn't see much success. India's shuttlers performances in men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles are below par even in lower rung tournaments such as BWF Grand Prix and BWF Grand Prix Gold.
Apart from pairs like Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa who had some spirited performances in Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014, not much is noteworthy from other shuttlers in recent years. Indian doubles team needs a reboot to compete with the singles team success at the world badminton stage.
Poor performances of Indian doubles shuttlers in 2017
In the 18 Grand Prix and Grand Prix Gold tournaments, doubles shuttlers only managed to make the top three on eight occasions. In the seven World Super Series tournaments, India only managed once to be in top three with no gold medal.
When it comes to six World Super Series Premier tournaments, doubles shuttlers did not even reach Round two; all shuttlers were eliminated in Round one itself.
These below-par performances of Indian shuttlers speak volumes for the poor condition of doubles pairs.
The year 2017 was disappointing for Indian doubles shuttlers whereas singles shuttlers outperformed and won against the best out there. Indian doubles shuttlers were clearly outclassed by competition in every department.
Hope for revival in Commonwealth games 2018
The pair of Satwik Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa won their mixed doubles match to march India towards their first gold medal in a mixed team event before Srikanth stunned three-time Olympic silver medalist Lee Chong Wei and Nehwal beating Sonia Cheah.
Ponnappa's control over the shuttle was fantastic in their first game which they won 21 - 14. Ashwini who is still struggling to find her feet after the disastrous performance in Rio Olympics 2016 and below-par performances in 2017 tournaments all throughout the year should find her recent performance motivating and reassuring to do much better in the future.
At least 2018 started with spirited performances of doubles shuttlers which in a way should set the tone for coming months.
Need to imbibe the right culture
In India focus is more on singles, players think later about doubles. Everybody chooses their own doubles partners in India, but it does not always work that way to build top quality pairs; the partnerships should be more based on how complementary their skills are to their playing style rather than their personal preferences.
India's new doubles coach Kim Tan Her has started to steer the system in such a way that it does not give undue advantage to singles players when it comes to remuneration.
Tan Her has also strongly voiced his opinion on pairing according to team requirements rather than individual wishes.
There are several dissenting voices coming up from the doubles shuttlers about the unfair treatment given to them.
When it comes to making pairs Indian players are not comfortable with the idea of team management deciding who will play with whom.
Indian team management needs to communicate with the players, sort out their differences and help India build a strong doubles team.
Long way to go in doubles
It is very disheartening to see almost all Indian pairs losing in their Round 1 or Round 2 in big tournaments.
Doubles is an altogether different game when compared to singles, it is a game of fast exchanges, moreover, if you don't have power then you can't finish the game. Indian doubles players currently can't match up to world competition in skills and power.
Shuttlers need to work on their movements, add muscle and bulk up to beat the competition out there.
Badminton Association of India(BAI) needs to make sure to provide all the resources for budding doubles players.
If India wants to be a force to reckon with in world badminton then India need to have shuttlers who can move faster than shuttle itself and India still has a long way to go to do that.