The Indian Badminton League is turning out to be a fabulous platform for the home players.
Money apart, it offers the Indian players an opportunity to brush shoulders with some of the international stars of the sport. The exposure may turn out to be very fruitful for their overall growth.
“It is good for Indian badminton, it’s a big motivation. I hope I can provide some motivation too,” said former Olympic and World champion Taufik Hidayat.
Hidayat helped Saina Nehwal maintain her composure in her opening high-pressure fixture against P.V. Sindhu. “Hidayat told me to relax. He said he faces the same kind of pressure while playing in Malaysia. He just told me how to handle it,” Saina had said after the match.
Ashwini Ponnappa also gained by combining with Olympic medallist Joachim Fischer Nielsen. She has learnt the traditional Danish way of playing doubles and has found some rhythm with Fischer to record two mixed doubles wins for Pune Pistons.
“They have a different pattern of playing (doubles). Mostly, they cover the corners,” said Ashwini.
Akshay Dewalkar, another dashing doubles player, has been enriched by the experience of playing alongside World No. 3 Carsten Mogensen for Banga Beats. “Mogensen is my idol and playing with him is like a dream-come-true,” said Dewalkar, ranked 40 in the world.
The league has done a world of good to the confidence of lesser known, up-and-coming players like Awadhe Warriors’ World No. 38 K. Srikanth and Mumbai Masters’ N. Sikki Reddy, who is ranked 74th in mixed doubles. They also get noticed by fans for their noticeable showings.
Twenty-year-old Srikanth, who is rated highly, counted the benefits of the IBL after his spectacular performance against World No. 14 P. Kashyap of Banga Beats on Sunday.
“It is a huge platform. We get to spend time with the foreign players. It is a good learning experience for us as we pick up the finer points of the game and learn how they tackle different situations,” said Srikanth.
In the next few weeks, the IBL is certain to promote the youngsters further and help them become more recognisable faces of the sport.
Keywords: Indian Badminton League