CHENNAI: Maisnam Meiraba Luwang was in a pensive mood, making mental calculations, trying to assess where he had missed out after a gruelling encounter that lasted almost an hour. Up against Kiran George, one of the pre-tournament favourites, Maisnam knew he had to throw the kitchen sink to get a result during their quarterfinal clash in the recently-held BAI senior ranking meet in Chennai.
Things were looking rosy at the start as the 19-year-old controlled the tempo of the match and pocketed the first game. But the more-experienced Kiran, employing his masterful strokes in the second game, fought back before sealing the contest and, thereby, leaving Maisnam with plenty to mull.
"I was not able to play the way I used to play in the first game. After that, I felt a bit tired, so I wasn't able to play my best. My opponent didn’t have to exert too much. Having said that, I'm not saying it (loss) is because of that. But those details play a part. Maybe, I have to go and play in another tournament from the qualification stage. I'm trying to think how to recover from this match," Maisnam, who had shocked the top seed (Ansal Yadav) in three games earlier in the pre-quarters, noted.
Having begun his campaign in the qualifiers, Maisnam had spent around 206 minutes on court while Kiran, who went on to capture the top prize, was on court for 143 minutes coming into the quarterfinal. It was a tough lesson for the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy trainee, who has been touted to shine in the future.
Coming from a region where the sport's influence is yet to catch fire among the masses, Maisnam is an uncommon talent from Imphal who has had a steady development since he picked up the sport. Having climbed as high as World No 2 in the junior circuit, Maisnam is now keen to show what he is capable of against the big boys.
He has two title wins (Latvia and Bulgaria) this year and was taking part in a senior ranking domestic meet for the first time. Frank in his assessment, Maisnam felt he still has a long way to go. "If today's (vs Kiran) match is counted, I’m still nowhere near," he said with a smile.
"I still have to do a lot of work from my side. I may not know now what’s the exact error but If I put my time and effort, I may find out. So it’s going to take some time," the World No 210, who is part of the TOPS developmental group, added.
In his quest to find answers, Maisnam - who had his father and coach Romesh Luwang by his side during the meet - wants to remain open-minded and take part in as many competitive matches as possible.
"Right now for me, I just want to take one tournament at a time. Cancellations can happen due to the pandemic. Only after taking part in a tournament, I can know if I have improved or not. I just want to play and give my best," he said.
Given his talent and his honest attitude, it won’t be a surprise if Maisnam goes on to find answers and makes a notable impression at the senior level.