HYDERABAD: Participation of the stars was a major attraction of the national badminton championships currently underway in Guwahati. Seldom does one see the Sainas and Sindhus in action in these events these days. On Thursday, however, the focus shifted to “uneven” courts, as Saina Nehwal refused to play her match scheduled in the morning. It was rescheduled for the evening, with two other matches.
The World No 10 made the decision following the match between Sameer Verma and Aryamann Tandon. This newspaper learnt that the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist decided against playing after witnessing Verma suffer an injury during his match, due apparently to the “uneven surface of the court”. Verma, who has been on an injury-free spree for more than a year, retired following an Achilles heel problem. He had won the first game 21-16, but was trailing 1-8 in the second when he decided to let go.
The Saina-Shruti Mundada match was rescheduled to TRP Indoor Stadium in the evening. This venue neighbours the Assam Badminton Academy, where all the top shuttlers are competing. Both the facilities are playing hosts to the competition. Along with Saina’s, matches featuring her husband Parupalli Kashyap and World No 28 B Sai Praneeth were also postponed. All three won later in the evening and entered the quarterfinals. Sources said arrangements were made at the indoor stadium to bring it up to a level which top-ranked players are comfortable in.
“We saw Sameer take off, jump and land on an uneven surface, which resulted in an injury. At that instant we decided to not take a risk since the All England Championships is fast approaching. There was no point in taking the risk,” Sai Praneeth told this daily. Sameer could not be contacted. It was learnt that the senior players took the decision to not play after a chat between themselves.
“The wooden planks came out at a couple of places after Sindhu played her match. They are now going to fix it. We will come back in the evening to play our pre-quarterfinal matches,” Kashyap was quoted as saying by a news agency. It can be noted that last year’s runner-up PV Sindhu had, earlier in the day, played on the same court where Saina refused to engage. She had beaten Malvika Bansod 21-11, 21-13. Sources present at the venue said the courts at TRP Indoor Stadium have a cement base, and the organisers are installing a wooden surface above it.
“After Sindhu’s match, one part of the court became a little high and the players said that they are unwilling to play,” said organising secretary Omar Rashid. “The issue has now been resolved and they are playing at the TRP Indoor Stadium where the semifinals and finals are scheduled. The players are happy and there is no problem.”