Mumbai: While praising the depth in the men's singles class, badminton legend Prakash Padukone on Tuesday expressed concern about the lack of talent in the Indian women's singles category after World No.2 Saina Nehwal and No.12 P.V. Sindhu.
“I am confident about the depth in men's singles for the next ten years with so many talented youngsters ready to take over from the likes of Parupalli Kashyap once they retire. But the same cannot be said about the women's singles," Prakash told reporters at the launch of the 8th edition of the $15,000 Tata Open India International Challenge here.
"Apart from Saina and Sindhu, there is none of international class at present. The same is true of the pairs events. A lot of work needs to be done in ladies singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles," the former All England champion added.
Currently, India's third best player is Saili Rane, who is ranked 81st in the world.
Padukone said his academy Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA), which has completed 20 years of existence, has shifted its focus to the youngsters.
“I am glad that in the junior nationals, the Under-17 (Lakshya Sen, Arintap Dasgupta) and U-19 (Chirag Sen, Ansal Yadav) winners and runners-up are from our academy though they are from different states. Maisnam Meiraba, the Manipur boy who won the U-15 title, is also from our academy," he said.
"The Tata Open is growing bigger by the day. Next year I am told even Gopi (national coach Pullela Gopichand) is going to conduct a tournament (at this level) and then players will have the chance not to have to travel too much as our tournament will be followed by Gopi's at Hyderabad and the one in Bangladesh," Padukone, woh won the bronze medal in 1983 World Championships, said.
Tata Open India International Challenge will be held from December 9-13 which will attract around 200 shuttlers from nine countries, including hosts India will be held at the Cricket Club of India (CCI).
This year participant countries include India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Vietnam. India will be represented by a strong contingent of 144 players
In the men's Singles category, the Indian contingent will be led by Sameer Verma (World No.53) and Anand Pawar (No.71). The line-up of international players feature Joo Ven Soong of Malaysia (No.85) and Khosit Phetpradab of Thailand (No.95), among others.
In the women's singles category, Jing Yi Tee of Malaysia (World No.30) is the top seed followed by Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand (No.39). Saili Rane (No.52) and P.C. Thulasi (No.80) of India along with international players like Chiew Sien Lim (No.100) and Yen Mei Ho (No. 109) from Malaysia promise a thrilling battle at this year’s competition.