Sanjay Sharma calls for good doubles strength for Asiad glory
Mumbai, Aug 21 (PTI) A day after India drew a blank in the team championships at the ongoing Asian Games, former badminton international Sanjay Sharma today stressed the need to strengthen the doubles combinations.
"There is a difference between badminton (played at the) Commonwealth and Asian Games. Asian Games has got every top nation playing -- China, Indonesia, Malaysia. I would not say it is a debacle, but we were unfortunately pitted against two very strong nations, who have been champions in the past," Sharma told PTI.
India's hopes of winning a medal in badminton team events at the 18th continental Games in Indonesia went up in smoke after both the men's and women's sides bowed out of the competition following identical 1-3 losses in the quarter-finals yesterday.
"But the worrying thing is that we don't have a doubles combination in ladies. So that is what we should be talking about...Gopi (Gopichand) as a national coach, what his lookout is (about it)," the former India Thomas Cup skipper said.
In the must-win fourth rubber, India fielded the scratch combine of Rio Olympics women's singles silver medallist P V Sindhu and seasoned doubles specialist Ashwini Ponappa, but the duo lost 13-21, 12-21 to reigning Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, who were solid with their defence.
Blaming the current process, Sharma - a top doubles specialist in his prime - emphasised that the national association should appoint a good doubles coach and ensure that four-five good doubles players emerge every two years.
"There is something wrong in the way we are processing this. We have got to have a bench strength of doubles in both men's and ladies if you want to do well in these Games.
"We have been lacking all these while, last 30-40 years to have doubles strength. They (BAI) have to get a good doubles coach, who will only work on doubles players or players from the age of 16 onwards and start targeting the next Asian Games. Forget Commonwealth Games, you will always do well in CWG," Sharma, who took part in 1990 Commonwealth Games, explained.
"They need to work out a system wherein we will have four or five good doubles players coming up every two years... that is the only way out for us if we have to do well in team championships...," he signed off