Commonwealth Games 2018: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty could topple top guns with explosive style of play

After gaining the much-needed experience since pairing up in 2016, India’s men’s doubles duo Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have sealed their place in the upcoming Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast ahead of B Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Attri. The upcoming tournament at Gold Coast will be the first major tournament for the recently-paired doubles players.

Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. Art by Rajan Gaikwad

Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. Art by Rajan Gaikwad

Ranked 300 at one point, Rankireddy and Shetty are placed 29th in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings. Doubles badminton in India is slowly starting to get the attention it deserves, and the young duo stands a chance to prove their worth on the international circuit.

Born in Hyderabad — the hub of badminton in India — Rankireddy caught the eye of many quite early, thanks to his attacking prowess. Shetty hails from Mumbai and started playing at the Goregaon Sports Complex. Initially, both players played with different partners before doubles coach Tan Kim Her decided to pair Rankireddy and Shetty. There were a few hiccups at the start as both are essentially backcourt players but it was Shetty who took the challenge of playing at the frontcourt.

Rankireddy and Shetty made a mark on the domestic level before making progress to the international stage last year. The duo clinched their first title together at the 2016 Mauritius Open, and since then they have been taking baby steps to get into the reckoning. The highlight of their career so far has been winning back-to-back titles in Bangladesh, India and Mauritius, while their biggest win came at the Vietnam Open. Not to forget, they played a crucial role in India’s Sudirman Cup campaign last year, where the team managed to reach the quarter-finals.

Rankireddy and Shetty have established themselves as one of the explosive pairs in world badminton, showing signs of improvement as tournaments pass by. Shetty’s calm and composed style of play compliments Rankireddy’s explosive finishing perfectly. Yet, there was a time when the duo couldn’t make it past last-16 of Superseries tournaments. To overcome this issue, Tan tweaked the training methods and asked the duo to play more often to create the on-court bonding.

What’s next? Rankireddy and Shetty qualified for their maiden World Badminton Championships in Glasgow and also made their first quarter-final appearance at a Superseries event in the French Open. Although they lost to the second-seeded pair of Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, their performance showed what they are capable of.

Tan’s methods were bearing fruit as both Rankireddy and Shetty became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to reach the semi-finals of a major event at the recently-concluded Indonesia Masters. Their win over Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Kolding indicated the duo’s growth in combination and understanding of each other’s style of play.

As the season gets tougher by every tournament, Rankireddy and Shetty’s biggest challenge now would be to continue churning out results in their favour. A good run at Gold Coast will not only allow them to get much-needed exposure but also prepare them to take on higher-ranked opponents without any fear.

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Updated Date: Mar 26, 2018 17:15:02 IST

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