Kidambi Srikanth needs to wait longer to reach the number one spot in BWF rankings as the Indian shuttler has withdrawn from the upcoming China Open, staring November 14 in Fuzhou due to a leg injury.
Srikanth is trailing world number one Viktor Axelsen by 4527 points. He was considered one of the favourites to win the prestigious Superseries Premier event in Fuzhou. A win in China would have made sure the in-form Indian shuttler leapfrogged his Danish rival in the world rankings.
Meanwhile, the world number two reportedly sustained the injury during the recently-concluded Senior National Badminton Championship, in which he finished as men's singles runner-up after losing the final to lower-ranked HS Prannoy.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) must be held responsible for Srikanth's injury ahead of the much-anticipated China Open, according to an official, who on condition of anonymity, spoke to "The Times of India".
The official has questioned the BAI's decision to host Senior Nationals in the middle of a busy international schedule. He also accused the governing body of depriving its top stars enough time to train for major tournaments.
The BAI had made it compulsory for all the top-ranked Indian shuttlers to take part in the top-tier domestic tournament, which was held in Nagpur between November 2 and 8.
Notably, Srikanth had played 10 matches on the trot during his title-winning runs in Denmark and France between 19 and 29 October.
"The players need to practice for at least four to six weeks to get into proper shape before a major tournament. By forcing them to play the Nationals we have denied them the opportunity to train properly. The idea of having top stars for nationals is good but you should have scheduled it in the off season - in January or February," the official said, as quoted in the report.
He added: "Poor planning by Badminton Association of India will affect the performance of our players.
"How can you squeeze in the Nationals between major international tournaments. Now our best player got injured because he has been playing continuously. He lost a great chance of becoming No.1."
BAI hits back; Srikanth to play Hong Kong Open
Meanwhile, the BAI has refuted the officials' claims and said it is wrong to pinpoint the National Championship for Srikanth's injury.
"I think it is wrong to say Nationals were responsible for his injury and it is wrongly timed," BAI secretary general Anup Narang told the "Press Trust of India".
He added: "The dates were decided in consultation with the top players and they willingly participated in the event. In fact, if not Nationals, many players would have played at the Macau Open.
"There have been no major injuries to any player. Srikanth has a mild injury which will be corrected with a week's rest. So he would be playing in Hong Kong, where he will have the opportunity to reach no. 1 ranking."
Srikanth though has already qualified for Dubai World Superseries Finals, the premier year-ending tournament after winning four Superseries titles in what has been a dream season for him.
However, the Guntur star had told International Business Times India that his focus was not on achieving the world number one rank, but playing consistently. He also added that he would take a call on his China Open participation after playing in the National Championships.