As the Indian Badminton League (IBL) reaches the business end with the semifinal lineup complete, Danish great Tine Baun has raised an interesting debate on the type of shuttles used in the competition.
After losing to India's latest sensation Pusarla Venkata Sindhu of Awadhe Warriors in Bangalore on Saturday, Tine, playing for Mumbai Masters, blamed it on the fast shuttles.
The IBL is using Yonex Aerosensa 40 or AS-40 whereas internationally the players are used to playing with the AS-50.
"It was too difficult to control the shuttles. My shots were going out all the time as the shuttles were too fast to control," a very disappointed Tine told IANS.
The Dane has the stature to speak out whereas her Indian counterparts are a little apprehensive to come out openly as their contracts prohibit them from saying anything which is in the nature of a complaint. But they are in agreement with the Dane that the shuttlecocks were too fast to encourage rallies.
Though the shuttlecock is designed to maintain stability and performance regardless of weather conditions, sometimes the air-conditioned halls are not equipped to control the draught disturbing the flight of the bird.
The shuttles ensure consistently fast recovery and accurate flight stability over a distance, provided all other factors being normal.
"It has become tougher with the shuttles as they are faster. It is difficult to control them because of the speed. But I can't complain because it is the same for everyone. It is not as if anyone has an advantage. Tipping does make a difference as it slows down the shuttle and makes the game a little more controllable," Pune Pistons icon player Ashwini Ponnappa told IANS.
IBL chief referee Girish Natu said that they became aware of the problem, but could not change the shuttlecocks in the middle of the tournament, so they tried tipping.
"We realised the problem after the league got underway and we have been tipping the shuttles to make them slower. We can't change the shuttles in the middle of the tournament so tipping them has made a difference," Natu told IANS.
'Tipping' is done when the shuttles are too fast or slow. Tipping the feathers of the shuttle outward will slow it down while tipping them inward will speed them up. This is a normal thing, though sometimes the umpires do not allow this if they are pre-tested.
Sindhu also agreed that the shuttles are fast.
"Yes they are fast but you got to adapt to it and as long as it is the same for everyone, I don't have a problem," the World Championship bronze medallist told IANS.
Pune Pistons doubles shuttler Rupesh Kumar echoed a similar view.
"The faster the shuttle the shorter are the rallies. It reduces the quality of the game but as long as it is the same for both the sides, I don't think I can complain much," Rupesh told IANS.
Delhi Smashers' H.S. Prannoy, however, provided an interesting insight on the difference these shuttles can make. According to the Youth Olympics silver medallist, the shuttles have made the game easier for the ones who are good at dribbling at the net.
"It is advantageous to a couple of players who are good smashing and at the net, but it has been very tough for many others. The quality of the game has also suffered, "Prannoy told IANS.