Uday Pawar: Should not have split doubles team

Former badminton international Uday Pawar spoke out after both men’s and women’s teams crashed out in the quarterfinals at the Asian Games 2018.

Ashwini Ponappa usually partners with Siki Reddy. But in the team event in Indonesia, while Ponappa partnered with P.V. Sindhu.   -  PTI

India should not have split their regular women’s doubles pair to accommodate two combinations in Asian Games badminton team event, feels ex-shuttler Uday Pawar.

Former badminton international Pawar, a doubles specialist in his time, spoke out after both men’s and women’s teams crashed out after losing to their respective quarter final opponents by identical 1-3 margins, with both wins coming in singles.

“In ladies, they spilt the doubles combination, which was probably a mistake. Because in today’s world, for any player to play two events, it is difficult,” Pawar told PTI.

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“First (P V) Sindhu played singles and immediately after that doubles; it is difficult,” Pawar pointed out.

“In that sense, it is a sad state that we don’t have any (effective) doubles combination besides the number one combination, which they had to spilt. It shows that we don’t have number two combination at all (in ladies doubles),” rued Pawar, who runs an academy here.

Yesterday, another former international Sanjay Sharma had also stressed the need to strengthen the doubles combinations. According to former Thomas Cup captain Sharma, the worrying thing was that the country did not have a good doubles combination in ladies.

“So that is what we should be talking about; Gopi (Gopichand) as a national coach, what his view is (about it),” Sharma had said.

Ponappa usually partners with Siki Reddy. But in the team event in Indonesia, while Ponappa partnered with Sindhu, Reddy was paired with Arathi Sunil. In the must-win fourth rubber against Japan, India fielded the scratch combine of Rio Olympics women’s singles silver medallist P V Sindhu and seasoned doubles specialist Ashwini Ponappa. But the duo lost 13-21, 12-21 to reigning Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, who were solid on defence.

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“We should have a number of good combinations by now. We don’t have new players, which is shocking” said Pawar. “The BAI is making a mistake by not having a separate doubles camp, where a lot of U-20 or U-22 players are allowed to train with top players,” he said.

“If you want eight combinations, you should have at least 12-15 combinations practising with the national team in the national camp under the Malaysian coach. Same thing should also be there with the men’s,” Pawar remarked further.