National chief badminton coach P. Gopi Chand feels that it will be a litmus test for India at the Sudirman Cup, a mixed team event, as it has been clubbed with China and Indonesia in Group ‘A’. The tournament is scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur from May 19 to 26.
Speaking to The Hindu, Gopi Chand said that the recent victory of P.V. Sindhu at the Malaysian Open will boost the morale of the team to qualify for the next stage.
However, Gopi Chand admitted that India’s Achilles heel was the doubles event (including mixed doubles) and explained how he was working on various combinations to match the strengths and standards of the rivals. “We need to produce a good number of specialist coaches in doubles. Right now we are banking on coaches from abroad, like Indonesia. We need to identity and groom them (coaches) according to world standards,” he said.
The former all-England champion said singles was India’s strength, with Olympian Saina Nehwal among women and P. Kashyap in the men’s at the forefront. “It is a matter pride for us that there are five Indian shuttlers in the top 30 of the world rankings.”
He said the Badminton Association of India, in order to promote doubles, was planning to introduce a tournament exclusively for doubles — men, women and mixed. “This will help players to gel well and the coaches can put to test various combinations in a competitive atmosphere,” added Gopi Chand.
Gopi Chand said China dominated the sport owing to the policies and steps taken by the government. “The government funding is heartening and it provides world-class infrastructure for the players to hone their skills.”
The team (for Sudirman Cup):
Men: P. Kashyap, Anand Pawar, Akshay Dewalkar, Pranav Jerry Chopra, K. Tarun and Arun Vishnu.
Women: Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu. Ashwini Ponnappa, Pradnya Gadra, Aparna Balan and Sikki Reddy.