Friday, March 4, 2016

Indian badminton gaining attention than ever before: Gurusaidutt

Injuries have put a dampener on his hopes of clambering up the ladder in 2015 but 2016 is one-year Indian shuttler RMV Gurusaidutt is really looking forward to in his bid to make his performance do all the talking.
The 25-year-old Hyderabad lad, who played his part in Mumbai Rockets’ runners-up finish in the Premier Badminton League (PBL), spoke about his game and much more in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda.
Here are the excerpts:
Q: How was the experience playing for Mumbai Rockets in the Premier Badminton League?
Well, it was overall a great experience playing for Mumbai Rockets – we had a good team and a lot of positivity within the team. Also sharing thoughts with the more experienced players was beneficial for me.
Q: How will you rate your own individual performance for Mumbai Rockets in the Premier Badminton League?
I had a win/loss record of 3/3, I started off well beating Sai Praneeth in the opening PBL match and that gave me a lot of confidence. I did struggle a bit against Rajiv Ouseph but I really felt I could've pulled off 1 or 2 matches more for my team.
Q: Do you think the Premier Badminton League – which was held after a gap of three years – is going to create more popularity for the sport in the country?
Definitely! The response from the people and the way BAI and Star Sports went about their task was phenomenal. If this continues to happen we can see the popularity of the sport increasing and more kids taking up badminton.
Q: You battled with several injuries over the last twelve months. How frustrating it is coping with such injuries.
It is very frustrating for a player to go through injuries. I had multiple injuries over the last one year or so and right now my right knee is injured, but I need to understand that it's quiet common in sports and think of what best we can do to recover and try not to repeat it. I also shouldn't get bogged down by it.
Q: You reached a career-best ranking of 19 in 2013 – do you think your best is yet to come?
Yes, I was 19 in the world, then I dropped to 65 due to injuries and couple of bad performances. I do believe in hard work, so I'm just waiting to recover completely so that I can bounce back by staying fresh – my best is yet to come for sure.
Q: What are the areas you need to improve on to climb up the ladder?
At the moment I need to work on my stroke quality and strength and good training of 4-6 weeks will get me back in good shape, Of course, being injury-free is the most important thing right now as I can't afford to lose any more time.
Q: There is a need for extensive television coverage of badminton on all sports channels like cricket for the sport to sustain its popularity. Your thoughts.
I agree that television coverage is the most important aspect for growth of badminton . Popularity is directly proportional to an increase in the number of players along with their consistent performance. However, comparing it with cricket is not a right thing to do now as they have matches scheduled round the year along with IPL. All in all, I would say that badminton is growing well in our country and events like PBL will make the sport even more popular.

Q: How do you assess the health of Indian badminton?

I believe badminton is gaining attention more than ever before. With Saina Nehwal becoming world number 1, the sport has attracted many kids to take it up as a career. With the crowd that showed up at PBL, I can definitely say that it is slowly gaining fame and attention it requires.

Q: What are your thoughts on your overall performance in 2015 and what you are looking forward to in 2016?

I can say that last year had not been the best of the years as I wasn't consistent with my performance due to my injuries. I had been bogged down by multiple injuries that lined up due to which my performance and ranking degraded. I couldn't train the way I wanted due to the injuries. However, I started this year on a good note with a good number of wins in PBL. I am positive about getting some good results this year as I'm focusing mainly on my body and fitness so that I can avoid my injuries as much as possible.

Focusing on staying injury-free: HS Pranoy

2015 was a bit of a mixed bag for Indian men’s singles shuttler HS Prannoy. The Kerala lad was in supreme form in the first four months of 2015 before a toe injury scuppered his aspirations to go up the ladder. Prannoy staged a comeback from his injury but hasn’t quite touched the form of early 2015.

The ace, who is playing for Mumbai Rockets in the Premier Badminton League, talks about the much-hyped league and much more in an exclusive interview.  


How does it feel representing Mumbai Rockets in the Premier Badminton League?

It’s been pretty good so far. I’m really excited about turning out for Mumbai Rockets. The league is being held after a gap of three years, which only enhances the excitement element. I have been training hard and hope to put my best foot forward in the Premier Badminton League.

Who do you think are the favourites to win the Premier Badminton League?

All teams are solid but on paper I feel Delhi Aces and Bangalore Top Guns are quite formidable. Delhi has the likes of Tommy Sugiarto and Rajiv Ouseph besides India’s Ajay Jayaram. Bangalore Top Guns has K Srikanth, B Sumedh Reddy among others. Both these teams are strong contenders although it does not mean that the other four teams are weak – all teams are capably of springing surprises.

How do you think our junior shuttlers can benefit from the Premier Badminton League?

Surely our junior shuttlers will richly benefit from their participation in the Premier Badminton League. It is quite different watching your heroes in the Stadium from watching them on the television. It’s a great opportunity to obtain vital exposure of playing the world’s top players in the Premier Badminton League.

The Indian Badminton League (IBL) did not take place after its inaugural year in 2013 – all badminton fans will hope that the Premier Badminton League is held annually and do not go off the radar after one edition like the IBL.

I’m sure the Premier Badminton League will be a massive lift for Indian badminton. It is just what the doctor ordered for the sport in the country - I’m quite confident that the Premier Badminton League will be held consistently every year and become a big brand in the years to come.

Do you feel that the Premier Badminton League has managed to get the cream of world badminton?

I guess so. We have a lot of world-class singles and doubles players. Of course, quite a few top guys are giving the Premier Badminton League a miss because they want to avoid getting injury ahead of the Olympic qualifying process.

Looking at your singles play in 2015, you started with a world ranking of 21 and you are ended the year at 20. How would you assess your 2015?

Well, I had a decent first four months of the year and reached a ranking of 12 in April. Then my toe injury after my Singapore Super Series put me out of competitive action till August and I struggled to find my groove coming back from injury.

How challenging it is to make a comeback after injury?

It is never easy to make a comeback from injury. I experienced it as I was unable to recapture the good form of the first four months of 2015. It’s difficult to hit the groove when you come back from an injury-induced lay-off.

Do you have any set goals for 2016?

To be honest, I don’t want to set any goals for 2016. All I want is to remain injury-free and if I manage to achieve that, a lot of things will be taken care.

All PBL teams evenly balanced: K Srikanth

Kidambi Srikanth had a fairly productive 2015 winning two singles titles as well as two runners-up finishes. The 22-year-old Indian shuttler kickstarted the year on a good note, reaching the final of the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold, where he lost to fellow countryman Parupalli Kashyap.
The Hyderabad-based shuttler subsequently won the Swiss Open as well as the Indian Open. He capped off the international calendar finishing runners-up at the Indonesian Masters, losing to hometown boy Tommy Sugiarto in the summit clash. Srikanth is battle-ready for Bengaluru Top Guns in the Premier Badminton League. He talks about the league and much more in an exclusive interview.

Q: You must be excited about playing in the Premier Badminton League (PBL)?
A: Absolutely! The badminton league is happening after a gap of three years and it is a great thing for Indian badminton. I’m really looking forward to it.

Q: What’s your take about the competitiveness of the PBL?

A: I guess it’s going to be a formidable field with so many top players around be it in singles or doubles in both men’s and women’s categories. The PBL will be big fun for sure.

Q: Would you consider standards of the Premier Badminton League in the same bracket as Super Series or Gold Prix Gold?

A: As I have said before, the Premier Badminton League has some big names like Lee Chong Wei and Tommy Sugiarto among others. The league will be as tough as playing in a Super Series or Gold Prix Gold. It’s just that it’s a league and not called by any tournament name and the competitive level will remain the same.

Q: Among the six teams, who do you think are the favourites to win the Premier Badminton League?

A: I reckon all six teams are evenly balanced. It’s difficult to pick any one or two teams as strong contenders. There will be fierce competition and I hope my team – Bangalore Top Guns does well in the league.

Q: Bengaluru Top Guns play their first game against Hyderabad Hunters in the Premier Badminton League.

A: It will be a tough first game for us. Hyderabad Hunters are a strong side and we will have to play out of our skins to beat them.

Q: Are you expected about the prospect of playing Parupalli Kashyap or Lee Chong Wei in one of the singles matches?

A: I’m not sure how things pan out but I will look to put my best foot forward for my team. I think I have lost twice to Kashyap and won once while I have lost four times against Lee Chong Wei.

Q: How handy a platform like Premier Badminton League can be for the Indian junior shuttlers?

A: Undoubtedly, it will be a massive moment for our juniors. This exposure of rubbing shoulders with the world’s best will make them mentally ready when they hit the senior international circuit in the coming years. I have no doubts that our juniors will benefit hugely from the Premier Badminton League.

Q: How important is extensive television coverage of badminton for the sport to prosper in India?

A: It is very important that badminton is televised on a large scale on all channels. Look at cricket – not just live coverage even highlights package after the event is over is regularly shown on channels and players are known by people easily.
As far as badminton is concerned, barring three or four names people don’t even remember the names of our shuttlers and in this regard the coverage of the PBL will not just enhance spectator interest for the sport but also will make many of our guys more familiar in public domain.