Recent successes of the Indian badminton players has pushed the country into the limelight and is gradually getting considered to be a powerhouse in the sport of badminton. As a reflection of this growth, India is going to the World Badminton Championships starting on 21 August in Glasgow with a 21-member contingent.
This is India's largest representation in the event and is among the few countries who has filled all four qualification spots in the men's and women's singles.
Kidambi Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth, Ajay Jayaram and Sameer Verma made the cut to qualify for the World Championships while Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Rituparna Das and Tanvi Lad were the women who qualified.
It has been a momentous year for the Indian men as they have won six titles this season and are widely considered to be the front-runners in this year's tournament. With back-to-back title wins, Kidambi Srikanth finally took his rightful place in the top bracket after years of inconsistent results. Srikanth started the year as World No 15, dipped to 31 and had a late surge into the top-10 and enters the Championships as World No 8.
Sai Praneeth too had a roller-coaster of a year, winning two titles, shuttling between the 30s and 20s before his victory at the Thailand Open pushed him to World No 19. While Ajay Jayaram had a comparatively quiet season and stayed in the top 20, Sameer Verma couldn't replicate his early success in the Syed Modi International series and hovered around the 30 rank mark to qualify for the Championships as World No 29.
Since ace shuttler Prakash Padukone's bronze medal in 1983, no Indian has won a medal in the men's division. However, if the recent form is any indication, these four players are the country's best bet in a really long time.
The women's division is an entirely different story. It was the pairing of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa who put an end to the 28-year title drought by winning the bronze in 2011.
Since 2011, India has managed a medal in every edition of the World Championships. PV Sindhu won a bronze in both 2013 and 2014, while Saina Nehwal claimed the silver in 2015.
Two years since then, Sindhu has won the Olympic silver medal in 2016, started 2017 by winning the Syed Modi International series title and reached a career-high ranking of 2 and finally enters the Championships as World No 5. It has been a mixed year for Olympic Bronze medallist Saina Nehwal who fell out of the top 10 and is seemingly out of touch. But, World No 16 Saina has time and again proved to be a top-class performer and is still a firm favourite in a tournament where she finished runner-up in 2015.
Rituparna Das and Tanvi Lad, the other two players are still finding their feet in the fast-paced highly competitive world of international tournaments and are ranked 46 and 93 respectively. With ousters in the opening or second rounds of various events, it is high time players like Rituparna and Tanvi step up and relieve Saina and Sindhu off the immense pressure of being the only hopes in a tournament.
The women's division is still heavily reliant on the two Olympic medallists and with the focus now turned on to the men's division, it might be the right moment for the other women shuttlers to move out of the large shadows and find themselves a place under the spotlight.
Published Date: Aug 17, 2017 07:50 am | Updated Date: Aug 18, 2017 07:14 pm