CHENNAI: In what was a battle between teammates from the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA), Kiran George was made to work hard during his quarterfinals tie of the ongoing BAI series meet in Chennai. Up against Manipur’s Maisnam Meiraba, who has lacked match practice because of the Covid-19 outbreak, it was expected to be a tricky affair for Kiran. But on the basis of the his experience and recent run, Kiran was expected to navigate past Maisnam.
After conceding the first game, Kiran was in a spot of bother. But he found a different gear in the second stanza and eventually got over the line, winning the contest 15-21, 21-15, 21-13. Later, he beat Mithun M 21-16, 21-15 to march into the final.
Honest in his assessment, Kiran wants to address the gaps that were visible in the game ahead of 2022. “I didn’t think I played my best. First game, I started really bad, I was under pressure for no reason. In the second, I gained confidence and started getting points. My smashes were working very well. In the first game, that was not the case,” he said.
In essence, Kiran’s 2021 so far, by his own admission, has been like the nature of his match against Maisnam. The Kerala shuttler had caught the attention of many recently by finishing ahead of senior pros during the national selection trials to earn a place in the Thomas Cup squad. Prior to that, he had won the Polish International event.
Just a few months before that, he had upset two higher-ranked shuttlers — HS Prannoy and Mark Caljouw — during the Orleans Masters. Along with those highs, he has also had some subdued performances. “Lots of ups and downs. I was lacking a bit of consistency. One tournament I was doing well and then I was struggling at the next one. I need to be more consistent,” the 21-year-old remarked.
Having been at the senior circuit for a few years now, Kiran is now looking to become a regular fixture at marquee events, where the best come head-to-head. But he knows he has to grind harder at the training hall in order to achieve his dreams. “The standard is really high. Players like Viktor Axelsen have raised the bar. Now, we have a new world champion in Loh Kean Yew. He is unbelievably fast. I have to work really hard to get to that level. I feel I’m getting there. I need to play and come into the top-50, top-40, get into big tournaments and gain some valuable experience,” the World No 77 said.
With multiple events in 2022, Kiran is aware of what he needs to work on. He is determined to improve his leg strength and movement inside the court. “My strong point is my attack and my overall strokeplay. I can mix it up quite well, from back court to the net, I’m good in my hands. But I’m lacking a bit of leg strength, my overall on-court movement. I need to be more agile and be strong in the legs. That’s what I’m working on,” he said.
“I have my eyes on January events. I want to do well there. In the future, I hope to medal at the World Championships and also do well in the All England Open,” he signed off.
Results: Semifinals: MS: K George bt M Mithun 21-16, 21-15; S Dey bt Sathish Kumar K 12-21, 21-10, 21-13. WS: A Kashyap bt S Kavipriya 22-24, 21-9, 21-7; T Hemanth bt A Chaliha 21-16, 17-21, 21-15.