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Sudirman Cup: India's disappointing campaign raises countless questions

India lost meekly to Chinese Taipei 1-4, were whitewashed by Malaysia 0-5 before recording a consolation 4-1 win over Australia to avoid the Group C wooden spoon.

Kidambi srikanth lakshya sen pv sindhu badminton commonwealth games 2022

Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu (Source: Getty)


Pritish Raj

Updated: 18 May 2023 9:12 AM GMT

It was just over a year back that the joy of Indian badminton team had no bounds. The country's men's team had just lifted a historic Thomas Cup title.

But a year later the same fans are scratching their heads, thanks to India's disappointing show in the 2023 Sudirman Cup.

Yes, the dynamics of the Thomas Cup and Sudirman Cup are entirely different, but the performance of Indian shuttlers in the tournament raises countless questions.

What happened at Sudirman Cup?

Drawn in the group of death with Chinese Taipei, Malaysia and Australia, it was clear that the Indian team will have to play out of their skins to make it past the group stage.

But what followed in next three days not only poses some serious questions but also gives Indian badminton a much-needed reality check.

India lost meekly to Chinese Taipei 1-4, were whitewashed by Malaysia 0-5 before recording a consolation 4-1 win over Australia to avoid the Group C wooden spoon.

While the results don't reflect the ability of this team, they do pose some serious questions.

Where are the singles coaches?

Top Indian singles players specially in men's category are playing without coaches for past one year.

India is yet to appoint a foreign coach for men's singles players since the abrupt departure of Indonesia's Agus Dwi Santoso in December 2021.

After PV Sindhu parted ways with Park Tae Sang in February earlier, the Korean has been helping out the men's singles players. The lack of a full-time coach on the sideline during crunch moments is visible.

In the tie against Malaysia, PV Sindhu was trying her best against Goh Jin Wei in the deciding game. But when her strategies failed, she was left frustrated without much help from sidelines which resulted in her first loss against the world number 30 Malaysian shuttler.

Underlining the problem of coaches, former world number 1 Kidambi Srikanth has hired an Indonesian coach to help him improve his game.

"I have been trying to get a coach since December 2021, when Agus left. Now I have an Indonesian coach Wiempie Mahardi. I met him when I went to Indonesia to train for three weeks. He came to India in the last week of April," former world number one Srikanth had said earlier this month.

Lack of Depth

One of biggest reasons of India's dismal Sudirman Cup campaign is the lack of depth in certain categories. While the men's singles category is packed with stars going through rough phases, the women's singles section has no one after double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu.

Veteran Saina Nehwal has more injuries than tournament appearances over the past couple of years and the likes of Malvika Bansod, Aakarshi Kashyap are yet to do anything substantial to claim that place.

In men's doubles, Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are winning big titles at the moment but MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, who have shown promise, are yet to come of age.

Much like women's singles, there is a lack of options in women's doubles as well after Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, who themselves are an emerging pair.

The worst for India comes in mixed doubles. Despite trying multiple players in different combinations, India are yet to find any reliable pair in this category. Tanisha Crasto and Ishaan Bhatnagar seemed to be levelling up but an injury to the latter has put them on hold.

Tanisha played with Sai Pratheek at the Sudirman Cup and the duo failed to impress big time.

Inconsistency: Indian badminton's old pal

If there is anything that is synonymous with Indian badminton, it is the insane inconsistency. The most recent example is PV Sindhu's display at the Sudirman Cup.

While the Indian gave her nemesis and world number three Tai Tzu a run for her money in the first tie, her sudden loss in rhythm against Malaysia's Goh Jin Wei from a winning position left fans and pundits dumbfounded.

The only Indian men's singles player to win a BWF Super 300 and above title this season for India is the young Priyanshu Rajawat with the likes of Lakshya Sen and Kidmabi Srikanth falling out of top 20 in world rankings, thanks to their inconsistency.

With 2024 Paris Olympics and Asian Games in sight, the Sudirman Cup should act as a wake up call for all the stakeholders involved with Indian badminton.

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