What’s the story?
The Indian men’s badminton contingent are having an impeccable campaign this calendar year and their performances in the last few weeks have served as a testament to that. Srikanth Kidambi returned from a stress fracture in his ankle to clinch the BCA Indonesia Open Superseries Premier title.
Speaking exclusively to NDTV about the golden era of men’s badminton in India, veteran shuttler Pullela Gopichand said, “Well definitely, I think we have many players and all of them are performing well at the highest level. So you can surely say that this at least the best few weeks we have had for Indian badminton ever."
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Following a six-month sabbatical owing to an ankle injury, Kidambi put up a confident performance to win the Indonesia Open held in Jakarta. Currently ranked 22nd, the former World No. 3 staved off a late resistance from the 47th ranked Kazumasa Sakai of Japan to win his first title of the season.
HS Prannoy, who is often dubbed as a perennial underachiever, also put up a terrific performance to stun reigning Olympic and world champion Chen Long, 21-18, 16-21, 21-19 to make it to the semis.
However, the Indian women’s shuttlers disappointed at the BCA Indonesia Open as both PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal crashed out to opponents they once had a 100% win record against.
The heart of the matter
The Indian national coach believes India are yet to consider themselves a powerhouse but with the male shuttlers performing brilliantly, it certainly has been the best couple of weeks for them.
Prior to the AO Badminton competition, both Kidambi and Praneeth did the nation proud by qualifying for the finals of the Singapore Superseries. Praneeth eventually won the title, defeating his Indian counterpart in the process.
It is fair to say that Indian badminton is going through a period of transition in terms of growth and ascendancy to the top of the sport. In all sports, there are eras in which a nation dominates courtesy of a string of star players who combine well to make their country a sporting powerhouse. And it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that world badminton is witnessing a change of guard at the top, which augers well for the sport.