Remember Kashyap Parupalli?
Amid the blinding glare of the spotlight that has dropped on the three kings of Indian badminton - Srikanth, Jayaram and Praneeth - in recent months, it is all too easy to forget the 2012 Olympic quarter finalist in London who, in the eyes of many, was the trailblazer for the new era of talent.
Three years ago, and in his prime, Parupalli was ranked 6th in the world going toe to toe with the world’s best and with a Commonwealth Games gold medal to this name.
Chen Long and Jan O Jorgensen had both been beaten and last eight finishes at a Superseries level were thick and fast. His nimble game with cunning net play was winning admirers.
Now 30 and ranked outside the world top 50, Parupalli finds himself as India’s seventh pick based upon current standings. The likes of Prannoy, Verma and Verma jumping the queue ahead of him.
But last week in California, Parupalli gave the badminton world a short, sharp reminder of his talents, albeit on the Grand Prix Gold circuit on which he has plyed his trade in recent seasons.
And as the wheels of India’s badminton bandwagon continue to revolve with no signs of slowing, it could well serve as a reminder that the Indian surge in male talent is more than skin deep. China’s strength in depth is often the envy of the badminton world but there are now 14 players flying the Indian flag in the top 100 of the men’s singles – a first for the nation.
Take an all-Indian final at the YONEX US Open last week as perfect example.
Whilst Srikanth took a breather from his scintillating form on the world tour, it was left to Parupalli, impressive in his role as the unseeded danger man in the draw, to face second seeded compatriot HS Prannoy in the final.
This time Prannoy took top honours 21-15, 22-20, 21-12 but it was nature of Parupalli’s earlier round victories over top seed Lee Hyun Il and, significantly, fifth seed Sameer Verma that caught the eye.
He was been India’s history maker before – the first male to reach an Olympic quarter final, the one to end a 32 year wait for Commonwealth gold – and if he can find the form of season’s past, as glimpsed so briefly in California, then Parupalli could well still play a role as India rewrite history again.