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I can take Aparna?s place: Trupti

For sometime now, Trupti Murgunde has remained the bridesmaid of women's badminton. The pencil-thin, petite 24-year-old Pune shuttler has been content to remain under the limelight of Aparna Popat.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 03:14 IST

For sometime now, Trupti Murgunde has remained the bridesmaid of women's badminton. The pencil-thin, petite 24-year-old Pune shuttler has been content to remain under the limelight of Aparna Popat. But not any longer!

"I know I have it in me to step into Aparna's shoes," she says with a glint in her eye. Speaking after a training session at the Riyazada Hans Raj Stadium here, Trupti is ready to take the mantle from Aparna. In the last Sudirman Cup in Beijing, (Aparna did not play there), it was Trupti who played the lone woman singles, and did not lose a single match against the likes of Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei.

"Yes that good show in the Sudirman Cup was a shot in the arm. I had to shoulder the responsibility in Aparna's absence, and the fact that I did not lose a match gave me the much-needed confidence," says Trupti.

If records tell a story, then a cursory look at Trupti's performances prove that she is the second best Indian player. She is the top ranked shuttler in the country for the past two years. At the international level, she was ranked as high as 48th in the world -- a feat bettered only by Aparna. She won the Kenyan Open and the Bahrain Open last year -the only Indian woman player to win two international tournaments.

She has also been a quarter-finalist in the 2004 Swiss Open, a five-star tournament. Yet she has not managed to beat Aparna Popat in eight meetings.

Is it something psychological? "Not at all. The fact is that Aparna rarely plays in India. Barring the Nationals, she very rarely competes in the domestic circuit. So you get to play her on a couple of occasions in a year," sums up Trupti. For the purists, Trupti's game is a treat. Her smooth court coverage coupled with her wristy flicks and deception make her one of the most delightful shuttlers to watch. But as some experts point out, the lack of power is her bane.

"I do not agree that to succeed at the international level, you need to thrive on power and hard-hitting. Wang Ning (two-time world champion) has proved that power is not the sole factor. But yes, you need to have speed."

For the record, Trupti is the sole Indian to defeat young prodigy Saina Nehwal twice in the last six months, before losing to the Hyderabad girl in the semi-finals of the Bangalore Nationals in January. Trupti did not do intensive training on Friday as she is nursing a bad back. "For sometime now, I experience a sharp pain whenever I bend to retrieve a shuttle. At first I did not give it much attention but when the pain became persistent, I consulted a couple of doctors. Right now I am undergoing Ayurvedic treatment and my body is responding well," she says.

Trupti will be taking a short break from the game after the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March. "I am going to take a break for about three months after the Commonwealth Games."

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 03:14 IST