Vimal Kumar: ‘Sindhu vulnerable on counter-attack’

Sindhu, an Olympic and World Championship silver medallist, settled for a silver, after losing a close final to compatriot Saina Nehwal, in Gold Coast.

It was yet another final loss for P.V. Sindhu.   -  PTI

P.V. Sindhu appears “vulnerable” on the counter-attack and that is a big factor in her losing many title clashes, including recent CWG final, observed former India coach Vimal Kumar, who believes that with little more maturity and a bit of luck, she will be able to pull off the close matches.

Sindhu, an Olympic and World Championship silver medallist, settled for a silver, after losing a close final to compatriot Saina Nehwal, in Gold Coast.

It was yet another final loss for the 22-year-old, who had faced defeat in the finals of Rio Olympics, Glasgow World Championship, Dubai Super Series Final, in 2017, and India Super Series and All England Championship, in 2018.

“Sindhu looked subdued in the final. She didn’t have the same sort of aggression that she has when she plays others. What I have noticed is when rallies are long and when there is a counter-attack, I find Sindhu little vulnerable, and Saina exploited that. She kept attacking. However, you don’t know what would have happened if it had gone to the third game,” Vimal said.

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“Sindhu is still young and she has been playing better against other girls. Unfortunately, when she loses, everybody criticises. Nevertheless, she is just 23, she can convert these situations to her advantage. I think that will happen. With little more maturity, she will do well. A bit of luck is also required."

“In this match also, she gave easy points to Saina. She was not confident of her shots. She was tentative while Saina’s body language was totally different, she was looking forward to the final. Had Sindhu lost in the semis, I don’t know if Saina would have been as aggressive because she was struggling against other girls.”

Vimal, who had trained Saina for around three years, after she shifted base to Bangalore in 2014, credited Saina’s mental fortitude, but said that he wasn’t too impressed with her performance against other opponents in the tournament.

“You have to give credit to Saina’s mental resolve, but she was not playing that great. I wasn’t impressed with her when she played against the Malaysian girl (Soniia Cheah). She also played a close match against (Kristy) Gilmour, but against Sindhu, she raised the bar and did exceptionally well,” he said.

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“The Rio Olympics was a big disappointment for her, she had won the Australian Open and she was shaping up well. I was personally very disappointed as well, but then she came back well and last world championship she won bronze, after losing close match to Okuhara, she went through injury crisis again.”

Vimal said that Saina can regain her best form if she stays fit and doesn’t overtrain. “It will give her a lot of confidence and I have always said that if she can stay injury free and take care of her body, and not over train or do too many things, rest of things will fall into place and she can still perform and be at her best. I feel she still has 2-3 years,” said Vimal, who had represented India at the Barcelona Olympics, in 1992.

The 55-year-old said that the mixed-team gold was the highlight of India’s campaign at Commonwealth Games and if the team can continue in the same vein, the country can win the Thomas and Uber Cup titles, in May.

“I would rate beating Malaysia in the final as more credible. That stands out for me, getting that gold. Overall, we have shown progress in mixed doubles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and that is credible. Ashwini and Sikki did well, Satwik and Chirag could have got the gold and that would have been a big achievement,” Vimal said.

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“Malaysia coach Tan Kim Her is doing a good job. If we can continue this, we have a good chance of winning the Thomas Cup and also a good possibility of winning the Uber Cup as well. We have won a bronze earlier. So, if Sikki and Ashwini can pull off their matches, and Sindhu and Saina can pull off their matches, we can win.”

“However, I think there's more chance of winning in Thomas Cup because our men’s singles players can beat anybody in the world. We have a decent combination of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy, they can also pull out matches. Nonetheless, all of them have to be injury free. It would be a good test for us,” he added.

Vimal also hoped Kidambi Srikanth or H.S. Prannoy can earn India a gold medal in Asian Games, something the country has never achieved.

“Next will come the Asian games. There, unlike in CWG, the opposition will be very tough, because China, Korea, Malaysia, all the top nations will be there, but they also have restricted number of entries.”

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“So, in that aspect, I hope Srikanth and Prannoy can get us a medal. We won a bronze, but never got a silver or gold. I remember in 1982, Prakash (Padukone) was expected to win a gold, but they didn’t allow him to play as he was a professional.”

Vimal also termed the scheduling at the Commonwealth Games as “harsh”. “I thought the scheduling was harsh. They had to play the bronze medal match after losing the semifinals. Players were playing in the morning and then immediately to play the bronze medal, it was tough.”

“It was physically tough for them. Sikki and Ashwini had played a lot of matches in the team championship. Overall, we can give a lot of credit to them.”