Cramped 2018 calendar will make tournament decisions tough, says Pullela Gopichand
Indian badminton has had a remarkable 2017 on the world stage with Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu touching reaching their career-best of No.2 in the BWF rankings table.Both Srikanth and Sindhu are going to participate in the year-ending Dubai Super Series Finals, where the top 8 ranked players compete, even as HS Prannoy, B Sai Praneeth and Saina Nehwal are going to miss out the tournament despite having had a successful 2017.With the rankings playing a big part in the qualification process of the Dubai Super Series Finals, it has given way to a debate whether Indians should chase the rankings or merely focus on selected tournaments.Prakash Padukone had recently opined that Indians needed to be more selective. National coach Pullela Gopichand agreed with Padukone but expressed helplessness in the same measure following Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) new competition rules.”It’s going to be tough in 2018 to decide on tournaments. The world rankings decide our entry in tournaments. If we don’t play in more tournaments, we don’t get entry into events. I think it’s wrong on BWF’s part. Players get little time to prepare and it becomes challenging to draw a schedule,” Gopichand told India Today.Unlike the Chinese, Europeans and other Asians who dominate the sport, India also have to compete in the Commonwealth Games (CWG) this year, which Gopichand says makes it more complex.”It’s more difficult for us as opposed to other countries as we play Commonwealth Games where you have to take out 2-3 weeks. We also play the Asian Games where you play team championship as well as individual for two to three weeks. So we have to work in a very cramped calendar. So to defend points and protect rankings becomes very challenging but I agree that we have to be selective and give more time to training and preparations,” he said.advertisementEchoing sentiments of India’s leading stars and reflecting upon this year, Gopichand agreed that India had reached a stage where the world feared Indian players. Despite agreeing, like always, Gopichand chose to mix it with a word of caution.”Definitely, the way our players have been beating big players in the sport consistently, there is not just respect but fear for us. But we have to keep playing better than the others because we will become marked players for them. So we have to keep working and getting a few steps better,” he advised.