She tamed the Chinese in China

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Dragon slayer:  Sindhu brought laurels, reminding us of Pradash Padukon’s  victory over Han Jian in 1981
Dragon slayer: Sindhu brought laurels, reminding us of Prakash Padukon’s victory over Han Jian in 1981

Silver medalist of Rio Olympic Games 2016 PV Sindhu has proved that her Olympic silver medal was not a fluke. She defeated Chinese in China and won $700, 000 Chinese Open Super Series Premier in Fuzhou. This is the biggest title of her career.

Demolishing the Korean girl Sung Jib Hyun 11-21, 23-21, 21-19 in the semifinal she conquered 9th ranked host girl Sun Yu in three well contested games 21-11, 17-21, 21-11. In badminton, a Super Series Premier is the highest title after the Olympics and World Championships.

It was raining outside when PV Sindhu took the court in Fuzhou. There was huge and noisy Chinese crowd. The people were aggressive and backing up Sun Yu. But Sindhu silenced boisterous fans of Sun Yu when she took 11-5 early lead in the first game. Indian was quick and aggressive which pushed Chinese ace player on back foot.

In the end it was a cross court return which earned Sindhu a big 12 game points at 20-8. Two smashes on Sindhu’s fore and backhands and a drop going to the net helped Sun save three points. But Sindhu sealed the opening encounter after dominating a parallel game and finishing it with a return that hit Sun’s face.

The second game was neck to neck till Sindhu took a slight 6-3 lead. She took it to 11-7. At one stage she was leading 14-10.

At this juncture Sun broke the rhythm of Indian player by hitting steep and powerful smashes on her body and made it 14-14. This was turning point for Sun; she had regained her composer and started playing very fast game. She stopped Sindhu at 16 and took the score 18-16, 19-16 and 20-16.

This was the time when Indian player seemed in disarray. That way Sun took the second game conceding just one more point at 21-17.

The decider began at very fast note. There was little to differentiate between Sindhu and Sun.

After rapid service changes both the players were locked 6-6. From here Indian started taking lead. Sun became erratic and gave couple of negative points. This helped Sindhu to take 10-6, 10-8, and at breather 11-8 lead. Then ends were changed but not the fate on Chinese girl.

By the time Sindhu had started roaring. The game which was neck to neck in the beginning turned
totally on Sindhu’s way. She was in complete command.

After the changing ends Sindhu conceded only three points before rapping up the game 21-11 with a backline push.

‘What’s important is not just speed. It’s rhythm. Chinese know when to change the rhythm and pattern of play,’ says Han Jian

Indian women dominate: PV Sindhu became the second Indian girl to win this title. Saina Nehwal won it in 2014. She again reached the final of this tournament in 2015 too but lost it. In a way the land of dragon has become a hunting ground for Indian eves, Nehwal in 2014 and now Sindhu in 2016.

It will be interesting to know that how Indian girls have started taming the Chinese giants in their own den. In fact it is the speed, stamina and the level of endurance which make them invincible, once Indians started to acquire that much level of fitness, Chinese bulls became tameable. Sindhu’s win over Korean girl Sung Jib Hyun (11-21, 23-21, 21-19) is the testimony of her fitness level.

Both Koreans and Chinese are hard hitting players. They can engage their opponents in long rallies and take out their steam, but Indian girls have achieved that level of endurance which puts them at par with their Chinese counterparts.

Skill wise Indians were always ahead of China. Prakash Padukone’s victory over Han Jian is the testimony of Indian skills over China.

During the Men’s World Cup at Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) Prakash beat Han 15-0, 18-16.

In this encounter, the first game became history. Prakash did not allow the Chinese giant to take a solitary point. His deceptive forehand cross-court shots and vicious net drops baffled Jan.

When Han turned 60 he paid tribute to Prakash thus: “Padukone was a skilful player, very smart. He was unbeatable at net. So we had to keep him near baseline. Other Indians were also skilled, but they did not have the same speed and power. At average speed, they were very good, but once you increase the pace of the game they could not cope.”

He says about the Chinese fitness regimen: “They still train the way we did five hours a day. You see, there are good players everywhere — Sri Lanka has some. But there are some aspects that are not taken seriously as they should be. Players play at a certain speed throughout the match.

“But what’s important is not just speed. It’s rhythm. Chinese know when to change the rhythm and pattern of play. It’s all about sensing those important moments to change the rhythm of play. So it’s about incorporating all that into the system.”

With this statement Han has touched the right chord and showed the way forward for players who want to emulate Prakash Padukone and PV Sindhu. It is not just in badminton, even in hockey fitness was the biggest problem for India.

But now things are changing and so are the results.

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