India created history on Day 1 of the Asian Games by reaching the semi finals of the Women Badminton event. Sports Rediscovered brings you a preview of India’s chances in the Badminton Singles Events.
With four medals at the Commonwealth Games and a bronze medal at the World Championships, there’s no doubt that the clamoring for a badminton medal at the Asiad was at an all-time high. The two prestigious events had served as good dress rehearsals leading upto the Asiad. As usual India’s best bets, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Ashwini Ponappa delivered critical wins to take India to the semi finals in the Women’s Team Event.
Saina – In Good Form
As talented and hard-working a player Saina is, her performances had been up and down till the Uber Cup in India. And then it all came together at the Australian Open Super Series where the India No. 1 came into her own. Beating Chinese ace Wang Shixian and World Champion Carolina Marin for the title surely gave the Olympic bronze medallist back her lost confidence to perform well at the higher echelons of the sport. Saina’s come from behind win against the Thai #1 and last years World Badminton Champion, Ratchanok Intanon proved that she is in fine form and ready to lead India.
PV Sindhu – Another Stellar Year
At the World Championships PV Sindhu, the other half of India’s marquee badminton duo, emulated her own performance of winning a bronze medal. The 19-year-old is a precocious talent and is building up a strong reputation and record especially against the Chinese opponents.
Hopes were pinned on her to deliver a gold at the Commonwealth Games but she surprisingly came up short to a player ranked lower.Sindhu, though knows how to bounce back as her record breaking second bronze at the World Championships proves.
PV Sindhu was at her energetic best in getting her singles and doubles wins in the crucial quarterfinals against Thailand. PV Sindhu’s doubles win along with Ashwini Ponappa in the deciding fifth rubber have provided the Indian team with an additional option which may turn out to be very useful in the semi finals against South Korea.
It is a healthy rivalry between Saina and Sindhu and also gives Indian two chances for a medal in the Singles events. While the lanky Sindhu exuded confidence after returning from Denmark, Saina too ensured she is willing to walk the extra mile by announcing her training under former player Vimal Kumar at Prakash Padukone’s academy in Bangalore.
Men’s Singles – A Confident Parupalli Kashyap
If the women shuttlers are the biggest hopefuls, the Indian Men shuttler’s team are also ready to spring a surprise at the Asiad where competition will be extremely tough.
India’s Parupalli Kashyap is coming into the Asian Games on the back of an impressive Gold medal performance at the Commonwealth Games. Although he lost early in the World Badminton Championships, Kashyap conveyed that his confidence and preparation is in place for the Asian Games Badminton Singles events
Cautious approach needed
Despite all the expectations, a cautious approach is more sensible as the Asian Games will be buzzing with heavyweights China looking to assert their supremacy in continental badminton along with the likes of South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia. For the likes of Commonwealth Games gold medallist Parupalli Kashyap, the road gets tougher in Incheon and a favourable draw would be most welcome.
India’s badminton preparations for the Asian Games received a setback though with star doubles player Jwala Gutta pulling out. A knee sprain has kept the Commonwealth Games silver medallist out of Incheon. And that further weakens our doubles teams as Ashwini Ponnappa will be without her seasoned partner.
Women’s Events carry hopes
There will be seven categories in this sport – men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, mixed doubles, and men’s and women’s team events. The latter two events will be based on the Thomas and Uber Cup formats comprising three singles and two doubles competitions.
Out of the seven, the women’s team event and the women’s singles look the most promising to provide badminton medals as was happily proven on Day 1 of the Asian Games.
The success at Uber Cup this year where the team won an unprecedented bronze might come in handy in women’s team event. If India’s two badminton queens click, we might even get to witness a medal of a better colour than the seven bronzes India current have!