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Enter Sindhu

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Move over Saina Nehwal. Here comes Pusarla Venkata Sindhu! With all guns blazing, she appears all set to catapult the country to new heights. If one...

Move over Saina Nehwal. Here comes Pusarla Venkata Sindhu! With all guns blazing, she appears all set to catapult the country to new heights. If one takes into account the advent and progress of the Hyderabad teenager, it should surprise no one. Her rise has been steady and as towering as her height. That she has become part of Indian folklore after the historic showing at BWF World Badminton Championship in Guangzhou, China, on Super Saturday is history now. What needs to be recognised is that the lanky girl is hungry for more successes. The question already doing the rounds in badminton, nay Indian, circles is whether she is better than Saina Nehwal, the face of Indian badminton renaissance for all practical purposes.

It is perhaps a bit premature to judge at face value but the fact remains that Sindhu has been accomplishing more than what her predecessor had as a teenager. The fact also remains that with media glare focussed on Nehwal, the setting has been just about perfect for the youngster as the pressure of expectations was considerably low on her, which, she has managed to capitalize on to the fullest. Apparently, the results evidence this strange irony. Running uniquely parallel to each other, Saina has been coming a cropper since the Olympic bronze while Sindhu is going from strength to strength. The rise has not been meteoric per se because she has been playing true to talent and form. The menacing tosses and half-smashes laced with eclectic court-coverage have caught the wiliest of opponents off-guard.

It is a tribute to overwhelming dedication and uncompromising diligence that the Malaysian Grand Prix gold winner is gradually emerging as a cut above the rest as the great survivor. Only a year back, Sindhu was sidelined from major events, including the Junior World Championship, because of persistent knee problems. On her comeback, she trumped the upheavals and agonizing days of turmoil while scripting fairytale successes. The ascendency has now been climaxed with back-to-back conquests of two formidable Chinese superstars in what has been her maiden appearance in the premier event.

The most significant aspect of Sindhu has been that she has shown nerves of steel while dismantling the dreaded Chinese wall brick by brick. Without hurting the sentiments of Pullela Gopichand vis-a-vis his more celebrated pupil, Saina still remains suspect against the best of Chinese opponents. At least, she has not been consistent in packing them off, which is precisely what Sindhu has become adept at. If the Chinese have overnight developed a fear of Sindhu, it quite evidently stems from her exploits against the big guns on the bigger canvas.

Right now, it is of utmost importance that Gopichand treads cautiously when it comes to handling Sindhu because the expectations of the nation would have skyrocketed, a situation Saina Nehwal found herself in a couple of seasons back. This is more so because they may play against each other in the ensuing Indian Badminton League. Strange as it may sound, this will be the first such instance in their respective professional careers. The resultant hysteria would be mind-boggling. For now, it is time to celebrate and raise a toast to Sindhu.

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