India enters group 2!! News paper’s carried this article after India beat Bulgaria in the final of Group III of Sudirman Cup World team Championships. But according to me we should have done this in 2005, where we lost to Poland in the final or at least in 2007 where we lost to France. But as luck would have it, we never achieved it. This time around we were very confident since we had a complete team with strengths coming from the doubles events. In fact I almost told our coaches that if we don’t win this year, India might as well quit playing Badminton in team events!!!
Fortunately for me and my soothsayer-ial skills( if there is a word like that) it happened. Right now we are one of the Top 16 teams in India. I think we can be Top 8 in the next 5 to 10 years. We have to really work hard as a team in order to achieve this.
We arrived in Guangzhao, China on 8th May 2009. China always amazes me. As usual Guangzhao did the same. Unbelievable infrastructure is in place. Lots of huge buildings, lots of big roads…All empty, waiting to be used. Probably they have thought well ahead in the future. Also some say that this will woo foreign investors come, by seeing all this infrastructure in place.
The tournament was conducted in immaculate fashion. No dearth of workforce and no shortcomings in anything. So many volunteers in place, that if any participant needed any help we could ask any one of them and they would definitely help us.
Firstly let me first explain how Sudirman Cup works.
The Top 8 countries in World Ranking play in Group I. The countries ranked from 9 to 16 i.e. the next 8 teams will play in Group II. Group III will have countries ranked between 17- 24 and finally group IV, 25 to 32. Nothing is below. So basically only the Group I winners can take home Sudirman Cup.
And the format is, it’s a mixed event. One tie between 2 countries consists of all 5 events of badminton i.e. one Men singles, One Women Singles, One Men Doubles, One Women Doubles and One Mixed. A particular country has to win at least 3 of this to win the tie. Since this is a mixed event, the strengths in all departments is crucial. If the men of the team are not strong or for example if the paired event is weak, then there is a shortfall. This was the case with India last many years, as our paired events were not that strong. But this time around was different as I had mentioned earlier.
India was in group IIIA. In our group we had Australia, Scotland and Ukraine. In Group III B there was USA, Czech, Bulgaria and Sweden. This stage was league. Then winner of Group III A will play Winner of III B. This winner will be crowned Group III winner and in the next edition of Sudirman Cup in 2011, the winner would play in Group II. Apparently, in 2011 there is a change in format which we heard only recently after the tournament which makes our victory a bit of a no-issue
In the league matches, India beat Australia 4-1, Scotland 5-0 and Ukraine 5-0. I played singles against Scotland and Ukraine where I won my matches easy. Chetan played vs Australia.
As I was in really good shape and very fit, I was the automatic choice for the final. In the final we played Bulgaria as they were Top in Group III B.
We beat them 3-2. Men doubles won in straight sets and next Saina won in 2 games too. Leading 2-0 in the tie, the third match was mine. I had a bit of a shaky start. Losing the first set, but played a steady game to win in 3 close games. It was supposed to be an easy match as I was pitted against a relatively low ranked player. Played quite bad that day because of some circumstances during the day, but was finally happy to pullout the match and the much awaited victory for India. After leading 3-0, Indian team conceded the next 2 as it was inconsequential. Team celebrated the win that night with dinner together.