Perseverance pays for Srikanth

K. Srikanth of India celebrates after beating Lin Dan of China to win the men's singles title at the China Open. /AFP PHOTO

What a week it was for Indian batsman Rohit Sharma who set a new record for most runs in a single One Day International (ODI) cricket match recently.

It was a more than impressive performance against fierce rivals Sri Lanka although some may argue that as last minute stand ins, they were not well prepared for the game.

Scoring a century of runs against any team is more than impressive, so what more 264 runs. 

Dazzling as it was, however, I felt that the week still belonged to upcoming Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth.

He didn’t set any record but he did win the men’s singles China Open title, beating Lin Dan in straight sets.

Srikanth became the first Indian male to win the title, joining compatriot Saina Nehwal, who won the female competition. 

This is a remarkable achievement seeing how he was found unconscious in the bathroom back in July.

He was rushed to hospital where he was discovered to have brain fever.

He recovered to play at the Commonwealth Games, where he lost to little known Derek Wong of Singapore. 

Srikanth, who is coached by former All England winner P. Gopichand, persevered through and got his just reward at the China Open.

Just two years ago, Srikanth was ranked 240 in the world.

Last year, however, he won the Thailand Open beating home favourite Bonsak Ponsana and eventually was ranked 13th. 

He broke into the top ten rankings last week after his China Open victory.

The first time I really took notice of Srikanth was in the Singapore Open semi-finals this year where he lost 19-21, 18-21 to Lee Chong Wei, not the easiest of games for Malaysia’s hero who is embroiled in a doping scandal.

I was really surprised at how an Indian player could stretch Chong Wei and match him at almost everything except in temperament.

I didn’t catch the China Open final but I did get to see Srikanth in action against Chen Long in the Hong Kong Open semi-finals.  

Although he lost, Srikanth showed his quick reflexes time and time again, leaving Chen Long bewildered especially in the second set.

His effort in that set was probably too much as he went down tamely 21-6 in the rubber game. You could see the relief on Chen Long’s face when he finally won. 

This is not going to be the last time we will hear of Srikanth who is only 21.

His attacking play is good although his net play is still a long way off the world’s best players. But give him some time and we could have another Prakash Padukone in the making.  

The world badminton has been for too long dominated by the same old faces.

It is clearly refreshing to see someone new, especially from a country where cricket is a religion and badminton is just something in the shadows.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. 

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Kidambi Srikanth , Lin Dan , Badminton , sports


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