Saturday, April 20, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
India have achieved several milestones in individual events in recent years, but that hasn’t quite translated into success at the team events. Men’s singles spearhead Kidambi Srikanth is hoping that will change at the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019.
Having watched other teams celebrate their success at team events, the world No.8 believes that the time is ripe for India to leverage its strength in the various categories and make a statement in Nanning.
“I’ve seen the Chinese, the Indonesians and the Malaysians celebrating team wins in a big way,” said Kidambi, who is expected to lead India’s campaign at the Sudirman Cup.
“When Denmark won the Thomas Cup in 2015 they celebrated their victory in a big way. We’ve never been able to achieve anything that big. But I started off well at the PBL (Premier Badminton League) in a team event. So we might as well do the same in the Sudirman Cup.”
Of the five categories, India can boast of depth in men’s singles, with Kidambi, Sameer Verma, Sai Praneeth, HS Prannoy, and Parupalli Kashyap the most prominent names. Between them, they have won several World Tour events and come close to medalling at the World Championships.
“Individually we’ve been doing well,” says Kidambi. “Perhaps we have not been consistent. In some tournaments I’ve done well, and then it’s someone else. So if all of us can peak at the same moment, India can do well as a team.”
Kidambi is banking on the fact that, just last year, India achieved a historic first triumph at the Commonwealth Games, beating Malaysia in the final.
“We’ve seen Malaysia as one of the big teams at the Sudirman Cup, and we’ve done extremely well against them at the Commonwealth Games,” adds Kidambi.
The expected return of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in time for the Sudirman Cup would be a boost for the team. Rankireddy had injured his sternum during a ride in a water park and hasn’t played an international event since last November.
“Our women’s singles players have been in form, and Ashwini (Ponnappa) and Sikki (Reddy) in women’s doubles have been doing well, and so have Satwik and Chirag (Shetty) in men’s doubles. Satwik is coming back from injury and he started training. So I think if we come together as a team again we definitely have a chance.”
Kidambi is content with his own form, although he has yet to replicate his dazzling run from 2017, when he won four World Superseries titles.
The Indian says he is still finding his way back from niggles that he suffered last year.
“I just want to continue playing so that everything adds up, going forward,” he says.
“I have been continuously working out. For the most part of last year I was injured, and then even before I got to my best I was injured again. Too many things happened. I had trouble with both my ankles. I have been training well for the last two-three months. I just want to continue playing. Now I feel I’m doing well once again.”