CHENNAI: Men’s badminton in the country is usually characterised by stunning victories against fancied rivals, followed by losses to relatively easier opponents. But times are changing, as Indian men are getting more consistent in their showings, even against top guns.
On Thursday, HS Prannoy stunned World No 3 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia 21-10, 21-18 to storm into the quarterfinals of the $1,000,000 Indonesia Super Series Premier in Jakarta. Kidambi Srikanth dug deep to outlast Danish World No 9 Jan O Jorgensen 21-15, 20-22, 21-16.
Prannoy, who went into the match with a 0-2 head-to-head record, saw off three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee in a 40-minute contest.
“Prannoy gave no chance to Lee. He looked confident and went on the offensive from the word go. However, even Lee didn’t look in his elements and his speed and power was absent. But Prannoy deserves credit,” former national coach SM Arif told Express.
Srikanth, however, had to toil to get past Jorgensen. The 24-year-old from Guntur took the first game before losing the second. He was behind 0-5 in the decider before showing grit in crucial moments.
“His win was a testament to his determination. His never-say-die attitude helped him and if he can keep up this form, a lot of things can be expected from him this year,” Arif added.
Fitness was the main aspect holding back the Indian men. Endurance and proper recovery are vital if they are to shed the tag of also-rans.
“Male shuttlers have to understand the importance of recovery. They should take adequate rest after games. Also in today’s matches, along with power and pace, endurance is very important. Improving on this feature will give them a higher chance of success,” said the Dronacharya awardee.
The stunning upsets along with the overall results achieved this year, show a marked improvement by the men. While three players have gone on to clinch crowns, two have also reached the finals.
While the women shuttlers — Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu — keep earning plaudits, the men often get overlooked. That is because of a lack of consistency, feels 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist P Kashyap.
“Today’s triumph shows that with hard work, you can reap the benefits. Both Saina and Sindhu have done a lot to raise the profile of the sport in India. We (men) have not been able to do the same,” he said.
“If we can keep producing results on a regular basis, then a bright future awaits for men shuttlers. We, as a group, are working hard and hopefully, such showings will become more of a regular occurrence.”
Saina, Sindhu lose
Saina and Sindhu were ousted in the second round in Jakarta. Saina lost 15-21, 21-6, 16-21 to Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol. Fourth seed Sindhu lost 21-15, 12-21, 18-21 against Zhang Beiwen of the US.