World Badminton Championships 2017: Making PV Sindhu, Nozomi Okuhara play without breaks was cruel, feels HS Prannoy

Indian ace shuttler HS Prannoy says the umpires could have been lenient given how both PV Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara were trying to catch their breath.

Shivam Damohe August 30, 2017 16:19:49 IST
World Badminton Championships 2017: Making PV Sindhu, Nozomi Okuhara play without breaks was cruel, feels HS Prannoy

The quality of the women's singles final between PV Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara at the World Badminton Championships in Glasgow on Sunday – the second longest women's singles match ever which lasted for 110 minutes – has left everybody in awe of the duo's exceptional work rate and the determination to fight till the end.

World Badminton Championships 2017 Making PV Sindhu Nozomi Okuhara play without breaks was cruel feels HS Prannoy

PV Sindhu during the World Badminton Championships 2017 final. AP

From long exhausting rallies to inch-perfect net shots to fine defensive strokes, the phenomenal summit clash had everything. During the latter stages of the decider, Sindhu and Okuhara were gasping and trying everything possible to get their breath back. It was so intense that the referee had to brandish a yellow card (warning) to Sindhu for not being ready when Okuhara was on the court.

Indian shuttler HS Prannoy, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the world event, feels that the referee could have been more lenient given how both the shuttlers were struggling to be on their feet.

"At times, the umpires don’t realise how to analyse the situation and react accordingly. They just go with the rules written in the book. But in a match like this, you need to give a break. They could’ve given a little bit more time, sometimes if the opponent gets ready faster, then you don’t have any option as you have to get ready," Prannoy told Firstpost.

After a few tiring rallies, Sindhu, who was sweating profusely, had to reach out for a towel at times so that she could wipe off the sweat and continue to play hassle-free. However, the referee not only warned Sindhu on numerous occasions but was also annoyed with the time-wasting tactics by Okuhara. "When both the players are not ready then I think it’s pretty cruel to push them to play," Prannoy added.

There was more to it. Notably, after round two of the tournament, the scheduling was such that shuttlers had to play crucial matches in short intervals. India's Saina Nehwal, who won silver in the 2015 edition, had played a marathon match on Friday, defeating crowd favourite Kirsty Gilmour in a match that lasted for 74 minutes in the evening session. However, her next match was scheduled in the morning session. Similarly, Okuhara too played three back-to-back marathon matches en route to her maiden World Championships gold. This, however, raises questions over the cramped scheduling that left a handful of players with barely a few hours to recover and take the necessary steps to be back on the court the next day.

"The scheduling could’ve been better. Saina (Nehwal) played her quarter-final match in the evening and then played her semis in the morning session. The scheduling was tough, there is hardly any time to recover. You cannot actually do anything as it’s all up to the chief referee," the World No 18 said.

In what was one of the best matches in the history of badminton, 25-year-old Prannoy said it was unfortunate that Sindhu was on the losing side of the epic final. "I think it was the best match I have seen in quite some time. The match had everything. From the start till the end, the match was very intense. Both the shuttlers never gave up on the hope of winning the title, so that made it really interesting. It was just that you need to have a winner and a loser at the end of the match and unfortunately Sindhu was on the losing side and Okuhara had to win this. She beat the best from the quarter-finals and I think it was written for her, "explained the US Open Grand Prix Gold winner.

At one point, the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist was just two points away from winning the elusive gold for India, but her shots went straight into the frame and arguably, that's where Okuhara capitalised.

Prannoy, who watched the match closely, said: "In these kinds of matches and situations, you can't really point out any mistakes from each person. Sindhu didn't play any wrong shot. Every point was going 15 to 20 strokes. The 19-all point was very crucial. I think she (Sindhu) had planned it really well but the execution went wrong with the trap hitting the net. That really turned the match. If she had finished the trap shot, the result could've been different. It's all a part of the game."

"The shuttles were really on the slower side in Glasgow and that really helped Okuhara and because of that, she could keep retrieving the shuttles in all the three matches. The credit goes to Okuhara for playing three long matches and that shows how fit she is and how well she was recovering after each match," he concluded.

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