SUDIRMAN CUP Day 2 – Known meet unknown

The risk India took very nearly paid off against second favourites for the Sudirman Cup title, Denmark. By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Gold Coast.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live) So, […]

The risk India took very nearly paid off against second favourites for the title, Denmark.

By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent live in Gold Coast.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

So, India did attempt to tip over the very established world #5 Danes Christinna Pedersen / Joachim Fischer Nielsen (pictured right) in mixed doubles with the unknown quantity of mashing together the prodigious talents of 16-year-old upstart Satwiksairaj Rankireddy with their current best doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa (pictured top).

Vindication that it was the right choice came when the scratch pairing went up 11-8 at the second game interval and followed soon after with grabbing 21.  The choice of Ponnappa and Rankireddy, their searing commitment to incursions, and starting the afternoon off with mixed doubles, all at once signalled India’s intentions to perform above their 9/12 seeding.  It was clear within the opening couple of minutes that the goal was the tie and not simply the match at hand.  Both sides beginning with an eagerness which continued unabated can be viewed as a mark of respect afforded by Denmark.

The threatening posturing and wealth of experience from the world #5 demonstrated that their London Olympic bronze reputation was not a quality of the past and they prevented an upset from happening, taking the opening match 21-15, 16-21, 21-17.

Throwing together talents was a good one-off tactic but not necessarily right for the long term.  No doubt an extraordinary performance was extracted from the Indian scratch pairing but there’s a feeling that each individual’s style and current state of development are better suited to different partners.  Rankireddy would benefit from a longer internship with a mixed specialist of deeper vision, similar to Pedersen or his India Premier League partner Chau Hoi Wah.  On the other hand, Ponnappa has room to improve in defence, which has more to do with adjusting her positioning than strokes, and this kind of increase in awareness she could teach herself from partnering an assured man cut from the mould of, say, Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov.  Their respective areas of growth are unlikely to be filled from partnering each other now but once they possess the missing pieces they would fit nicely.

Line Kjaersfeldt was well prepared for women’s singles but Rio Olympic silver medallist Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (pictured) proved quicker in two departments, recovering after saving shuttles and following in on weak replies.  The highest world ranked Indian across all disciplines acquitted herself, winning 21-18, 21-6.

Ultimately, the Indians were left to savour a bittersweet outing and ponder “What ifs”.  Their women’s doubles Sikki Reddy / Ashwini Ponnappa reached match point first in another three-game thriller for the final fixture but conceded the deuce to Rio silver medallists Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (pictured bottom), 18-21, 21-15, 23-21.

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Aaron Wong

About Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong only ever coveted badminton's coolest shot - a reverse backhand clear. He is renowned for two other things: 1) Writing tournament previews that adjust the focus between the panorama of the sport's progress, down to the microscopic level of explaining the striking characteristics of players; 2) Dozing off during men's doubles at the London Olympic Games. Contact him at: aaron @