Appearances can be deceptive. Twenty-two-year-old Rituparna Das may well have exemplified this phrase when the fragile shuttler showed amazing composure under pressure in the Premier Badminton League (PBL).
A stand-by for Saina Nehwal, Das stood up when it mattered, winning two singles matches she played for North-Eastern Warriors.
Is there a big difference in how she felt after the contests? “[For the] first time, I played two matches in the PBL. Normally, I don’t yell. Not shouting more to be more confident. This was the advice given to me by Saina. She says shout and play and never give up even when you are down,” Rituparna said after surprising many with her impressive showing.
How was the experience of PBL? “Well, like all, I, too, tend to pick a few things which should only help my game. Like watching them train and play in these games. For instance, Saina’s will power as she never gives up till the last point. Then, I have [also] realised the importance of being patient. Fortunately, most of the big players are very friendly, too, and share their thoughts,” Rituparna, the World No. 55, explained.
“Definitely, the PBL is a great platform when you chalk your plans for the next calendar year. You are bound to be a different player, travelling around with the big guns and training with them. Even the off-court chemistry helps you a lot,” she added.
What are the areas to work on, now? “Nothing specific, as it is always imperative to improve your all-court game. The most important thing is that I have to really train hard and focus more to step into the big league. Definitely, [I’m] feeling more confident after my performance in this PBL,” she said.
“Honestly, I am not feeling any pressure on being asked to play women’s singles, taking the matches like any other because I was mentally prepared once I came to know that I had to play in the team meetings a day before,” she clarified.
Rituparna revealed her professional target. “[It is] to break into the top 30. I have to start playing more Grand Prixs and I hope to realise that next year. The ultimate goal is Olympic gold,” she signed off.