KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia badminton has traditionally been known to produce and to nurture top men’s doubles. Started with Tan Aik Huang/Yew Cheng Hoe in the 60’s, Ng Boon Bee/Punch Gunalan in the 70’s, Razif Sidek/Jalani Sidek in the 80’s, Cheah Soon-Kit/Soo Beng Kiang, Cheah Soon-Kit/Yap Kim Hock, Lee Wan Wah/Chong Tan Fook in the 90’s, and Chew Chong Eng/Chan Chong Ming, Koo Kien Keat/ Tan Boon Heong in the 2000’s. Although some of these pairs may not always be the dominant power in the badminton world, but, men’s doubles has always been huge factor to secure points for Malaysia’s Thomas Cup team.
However, things are different for the Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25 this year. For the first time, Malaysia doesn’t have one of those fearsome combinations in its lineup that are stable enough and capable enough to carry the team to atleast force a 2-2 tie. World No. 7 Thien How-Wee Kiong and reigning Malaysian Open champions Khim Wah-V Shem’s performance have been very shaky in recent tournaments.
“I am not expecting these pairs to win a point for Malaysia. They have been struggling, and I do not think the opponents are even afraid of them,” said Razif, who partnered brother Jalani to help Malaysia win the Thomas Cup at Stadium Negara 22 years ago.
“Khim Wah-V Shem has shown some improvements by winning the Malaysian Open early this year. But, Khim Wah almost got me into heart attack every time he serves.”
“I am not looking down at them, instead, I want them to step up and regain top form in the Thomas Cup Finals. Anyhow, they still have two more weeks before the Finals.”
Malaysia is in Group C with South Korea, Germany and India in the Finals.
“South Korea is very strong in the doubles while Germany has beaten Malaysia in the Sudirman Cup last year,” said Razif.
“I hope our coaches can think outside the box, and willing to try different combinations and have an idea as to who they want to play. The centralized camp starting on May 4 at the Juara Stadium could be a good way to ignite the fire and build team unity. Honestly, I don’t think they will go very far without unity”