Sudirman Cup disappointment a bitter pill but temporary blip: HS Prannoy
Star shuttler HS Prannoy said that the Indian team's disappointing show at the Sudirman Cup will only be a blip on the way because of the strong team spirit.
HS Prannoy termed the Sudirman Cup defeat as a hard pill to swallow but said that there were positives to be taken by the Indian badminton team and that the culture within the team ensures that this will only be a blip on the way.
The high-flying Indian team was dealt a blow when they failed to progress past the group stages of the ongoing Sudirman Cup. This was the first time in two years that India failed to reach the podium at team events. In this period, they won the Thomas Cup, the silver at the CWG Mixed team event and the bronze at Badminton Asia mixed team championships.
Talking about the Sudirman Cup, Prannoy told The Bridge, "I don't think anything went wrong as such. It was disappointing, to be honest, but I think there are a few positives also. The biggest positive is the bonding between the team. From last year's Thomas Cup to Asian Badminton Championships, where we won bronze, the team environment has been brilliant."
"I think in sports you have to take such hard pills from time to time. It is a big learning for the team and we will make sure to avoid our mistakes next time," he added.
The Indian team suffered big losses against Chinese Taipei and Malaysia before getting a consolation win against Australia in Group C of the Sudirman Cup. Both Chinese Taipei and Malaysia will be playing in the quarterfinals on Friday, while the Indian team returns empty-handed.
Prannoy said things could have easily been different had small things gone their way.
"In such team events, all you need is one game to shift the momentum. For example, if we had won the first mixed doubles game against Chinese Taipei, the result would have been different. That win could have changed the perspective of our team. None of those momentum matches went our way as they had at Thomas Cup or ABC," he explained.
'Conscious effort to build team spirit'
Despite the recent disappointment, the best part about the rise of the Indian team in recent years has been the growing unity between the youngsters and the experienced players. It might be hard to adapt to a team environment in an individual sport, but this is where the change has been palpable.
"Being an individual sport, 95% of the time we play individual tournaments, and 5% of the time we participate in such team events. So it is very tough to get into that zone where you are sacrificing a lot of time for the team. You'll have to give time to be with the team, do team activities, and be together," Prannoy underlined the importance of a strong team culture for such events.
There has been a significant change in the way Indian shuttlers approach such events. From the signature Kidambi Srikanth roar after winning Thomas Cup to Chirag Shetty dancing to every point to PV Sindhu passing suggestions to Kidambi in Telugu during the CWG semis, the Indian team comes out as a strong unit.
"I think that what has changed in the last year is that the senior players have stepped up. We are trying to make sure that everybody is talking or having a conversation with everybody, having team meetings separately with only the players in a way that the junior players are a little bit more comfortable talking and sharing their experiences," Prannoy said further.
"For example, youngsters like Anupama Upadhayay need to be at ease with seniors and experience such an environment," he explained.
With the process of nurturing a strong team having been set in stone, Prannoy believes that results will follow.
"Team spirit comes from this culture where everybody is ready to help everybody. I think it has been good and every player wants to play team events and experience this culture of traveling together and supporting each other. It's a conscious effort that has resulted in something really good," he concluded.