BWF World Championship: HS Prannoy’s Heroic Performance Kept India’s Badminton Record Intact


As far as this 2023 BWF World Championship is concerned, for the Indian badminton followers, it will be remembered for the scintillating and heroic performance of the 9-seeded Indian ace HS Prannoy.

He deserves a standing ovation for his great show against Viktor Axelsen, the top-seeded defender of the title. Hitherto considered invincible, Prannoy’s highly intelligent game penetrated the mystery of the Axelsen riddle with facile ease.

In fact, let me quote former multiple times national veterans and world masters champion Shirish Nadkarni on this show of Prannoy.

“To be truthful I did not expect Prannoy to win this match. I felt he would lose in two hard-fought games at the best. But at the same time I also felt that if anyone can defeat Viktor, it has to be Prannoy. But the kind of performance we saw, showed his character and dramatic talent he sits upon. He looks calmer and more self-assured and his fitness has improved substantially. His recent marriage has done him good. He actually got inside the brain of Axelsen and out-thought him and produced strokes of great vintage and charm to assure himself of a medal as he strode into the semifinals,” Nadkarni said.

Prannoy took 70 minutes to subdue the great Dane and set up what should be a fast-paced, engrossing encounter in the semi-final against Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn, the three times former world junior champion, who had shown the exit to Lakshya Sen in his quarters.

The Indian ace had lost the first game to Axelsen 13-21. The Dane looked really in control and he had an answer to everything Prannoy could throw at him. It did look like curtains for Prannoy. But an astonishing change took place in the demeanour of the 31-year-old Indian. He had allowed Axelsen to control the net area for the vicious dribbles to get for mid-court openings which he devoured with glee. The very steep and fast smashes found no takers as the Indian was hopelessly beaten by the sheer velocity, direction and suddenness of the scorchers.

Prannoy came out for the second game with grim determination written on his face. And with all guns blazing. He was totally determined not to allow Axelsen anywhere near the net for the first stroke while the deep fast tosses with good variations ensured that Axelsen did not get a clear angle to bring his deadly smashes into the rallies.

He led 11-9 at the half point and then increased the lead to 17-10, easing into winning the game. The line kissing smashes, time and again beat Axelsen, however much he stretched.

With this strategy working nicely he continued with it and led 11-6 at the halfway point. He continued the lead and had a flourishing finish in the rallies to lead 18-11 and 19-14 before wrapping the decider 21-15.

Prannoy had in quarter-finals got the better of the 2021 world champion Loh Kean Yew, in a tough three-setter winning 18-21,21-15, 21-19.

The highlight of this match was Loh with his fantastic leg speed, probably the best in the world today and almost broke the spine of Prannoy when he grabbed 6 points in when he was down 4-11.

Coming close to Prannoy at 10-11. Prannoy had somehow continued to lead by a point all the way through winning the decider by the skin of his teeth.

These two matches must have taken a lot out of Prannoy as recovery is not so fast as you grow older. At 31 he is not young, and this was apparent in his match in the semi-final against Kunlavut Vitidsarn the third seed and last year’s silver medalist of Thailand today. He is a 22 old player. The first game had its highlights, even though Prannoy won it. But the long rallies and father time ensured that however much he tried he could not get in close to the Thai. Prannoy lost 18-21, 21-13, 21-14.

From a 5-1 lead in the second game Prannoy, most unusually lost many points in a row allowing Vitidsarn to get to 10-7. In fact, the fast tiring Indian had lost 12 of the next 14 points to trail 7-13. Now with legs really weary he started to make easy mistakes and crashed out at 13. The decider saw Vitidsarn taking a 5-1 lead. He led 14-10, 16-13, 19-13 dominating with a vice-like group to run out a winner 21-14.

But Prannoy played his heart out in this world championship and he deserves all the Kudos and applause for this great feat.

Let us now see how the other Indians fared in the world championship. Lakshya Sen reached the third round where he lost to Kunvalut Vitidsarn in three hard-fought games 21-14, 16-21, 21-13 Kidambi Srikant lost in the first round to Kenta Nishimoto the 14-seeded Japanese, 14-21, 14-21. PV Sindhu came a cropper once again by losing to Naomi Okuhara of Japan 14-21, 14-21 in the second round.

For India, the loss of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty in the quarter-finals to Astrup and Rasmussen, the veterans from Denmark 18-21, 19-21 will hurt for some time. But they are young and will look forward to getting their form back. While Chirag looked jaded and out of form, Satwiksairaj made a lot of mistakes in defence. I hope it is not due to too much training.


Source link

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours