Pradnya Gadre,left without a playing partner,after Ashwini Ponappa decided to reunite with Jwala Gutta,will now pair up with academy-mate Sikki Reddy to give the new left-right combination a try for the remainder of this season.
The pair of 23-year-olds were advised by national coach P Gopichand to pair up for three international tournaments,as well as the Senior Nationals in 2013,and Gadre who had a taste of high-level competition this last year alongside Ashwini,will now attempt to get a partnership going with left-handed Sikki,also training at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.
We’re just trying it out, Sikki said,adding that the combine will start out in lower-rung tournaments while trying to build an on-court rapport. Besides the Nationals in Delhi later this year,we’re likely to play Bahrain International and then the GP Gold at Macau,as well as the Tata Challenge in December. We’re not going to get ambitious just yet,so we may or may not travel to Hong Kong Super Series, Sikki added. The pair is likely to review their progress and take a call on the next season,depending on their performance in these three tournaments.
The left-right combination takes time to adjust. At least 3-4 months, Sikki says,adding that they’re still smoothening the chinks in their games these last two weeks,training with the Indonesian coaches at the academy.
While Gadre has played with Ashwini Ponappa and Prajakta Sawant – both right handers earlier,Sikki had been reconsidering her combination with Aparna Balan,with their combined games stagnating and not quite up to scratch at the highest level. India’s most succesful combination remains Jwala and Ashwini,who are getting together this month after a gap of one year post Olympics,and Sikki believes her southpaw game will lend a newer dimension to the combination,and reinvigorate both doubles careers.
While Ashwini-Pradnya enjoyed a few shock victories in their time together,the combination hadn’t really set the international circuit on fire. The ruckus in the lead-up to the IBL had thrown Jwala and Ashwini together – and they announced their decision to combine forces again from October,leaving Pradnya Gadre unpaired.
Still,Sikki and Pradnya have many mountains to climb before they can aim to run their more illustrious challengers close. Were still unsteady on court,and with left-right,we need to get the understanding perfect or we end up clashing on court, Sikki says,adding,that she’ll take over the running and smashing duties at the back of the court,while Pradnya takes care of the net. Sikki Reddy’ll hope Gadre can get her the finishing kills that were conspicuously absent when Aparna Balan,a tad slow,couldn’t make the most of Sikki’s industrious hustling as she went about setting up points for her partner.
Just a warning likely for Jwala
The disciplinary committee set up by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has suggested just a warning for Jwala Gutta,after looking into the incidence that led to an IBL tie being deferred by 20 minutes in Bangalore earlier this year,after she led her Delhi Smashers in a protest against Bangalore’s fielding of a replacement player.
According to a BAI official,the icon player will be pulled up for forcing the televised tie to be deferred as she argued with the officials,but insists the offence didn’t merit a ban.