The list of qualifiers announced for the BWF World Tour Finals confirms this fact. Barring Sindhu none of the Indians made it to the Tour Finals in any of the five categories. The top eight performers in a calendar year made it to the yearend event which begins in Guangzhou from December 11.
The irony is that even Sindhu, who is the defending champion, would have missed the cut by a big margin had she not won the world title. The world champions automatically qualifies though they fare badly in the other events.
Sindhu is ranked No.15 in the World Tour ranking and is the only player among the 40 participants, who is outside top-9 in the Tour rankings.
Saina Nehwal won the Indonesia Masters in January and that was the only singles title Indians had won in a major event apart from Sindhu’s world crown. The men’s doubles team of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag won the Thailand Open in July but missed many events due to injuries and thereby failed to improve their world ranking.
Such is the poor performance of Indians that Saina is ranked No.23 in the World Tour and the next Indian girl was Riya Mookerjee at No. 63.
In men’s singles, Parupalli Kashyap was the top ranked Indian at No. 16, ahead of Sai Praneeth (No.17) and Kidambi Srikanth (No.18).
Satwik and Chirag, the best Indian doubles pair, are languishing at No.22. In women’s doubles Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy are at No. 21 while Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki are placed at No.22 in mixed doubles.
Chief coach Pullela Gopichand blamed it on packed international calendar and persistent injuries for the poor show of Indian shuttlers. Saina and Srikanth have even opted out of the next month’s Premier Badminton League to focus more on getting into shape.
While tight scheduling is a fact, as BWF insists top players top players to feature in a minimum of 12 tournaments, the same is the case for other shuttlers as well. A better management of work load is the need of the hour as Indians face the prospect of missing Olympic qualification if they don’t stay in the top-16 of world rankings.