There’s always the last-minute pull-outs to put a dampener on the show. But barring the possibility of some of the Chinese women shuttlers cancelling their India tickets for the April 1-6 India Super Series entirely, the upcoming event will see the strongest bunch from that domineering nation to compete at an Indian venue.
Siri Fort’s never had it this good.
At the 2009 World Championship in Hyderabad in 2009 — the last time the Chinese hopped south for a global event, Xie Xingfang was nearing her retirement, and their transition players — Lu Lan, Lin Wang — though formidable, were still in the shadows of their first-stringers.
With all the top ranked players – No 1 through No 10 — on the draw-sheet for Delhi’s April event, and China’s 1,2,3 carrying with them the tags of Olympic champion, former World Champion, and recently-crowned All England champion, the Delhi field’s the strongest in badminton, helped by the fact that there’s no cap on shuttlers from a single nation, as happens at the Olympics or Worlds.
One obvious reason why the Chinese will trek down for this event is to recce ahead of the Thomas Uber Cup at Delhi in May. A tournament that the Chinese are extremely and propreitarily possessive about winning, the Uber Cup which will topline Delhi’s glorious badminton summer, has managed to draw out Xuerui Li, Yihan Wang and Shixian Wang out of their lair, and the India Super Series should benefit from enjoying their first sighting, if the whole pack does fetch up.
What makes the India Super Series a fascinating dress rehearsal to the team-dynamics of the Uber Cup, is the presence of the pair of Koreans, Thais and the two Indians Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu in the Top 10, who will all be on show at Delhi next week sizing up their opponents even while looking for Super Series points.
For an Indian spectator, live badminton has never looked this good.
(Shivani is a senior assistant editor based in Mumbai)