Cool Prannoy set for greater heights

As Prannoy won over the fancied World No. 2 Kidambi Srikanth in Nagpur, he not only took the prize that has eluded him through the last five years or so but also reconfirmed that he is one player not to be taken lightly in the circuit.

H.S. Prannoy (right) with the Senior Nationals winner's trophy after he beat Kidambi Srikanth in the final.

A good 27 years after George Thomas won it in 1990, Kerala has a new National champion in badminton.

On Wednesday as he won over the fancied World No. 2 Kidambi Srikanth in Nagpur, H.S. Prannoy not only took the prize that has eluded him through the last five years or so but also reconfirmed that he is one player not to be taken lightly in the circuit.

The Thiruvananthapuram-resident, who trains at the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad, in fact, is only the third player from Kerala to win the coveted title. The other being U. Vimal Kumar, former National coach, who crowned himself with all the glory in two consecutive years — 1988 and 1989.

READ: HS Prannoy outlasts Srikanth to win maiden national badminton title

With George Thomas retaining the title the next year, Kerala badminton had looked to be in for rosy days. However, it was not be and though many players from the State have always been in the limelight by taking the doubles titles dime a dozen, the singles crown was beyond the reach of anyone through the last quarter of a century or more.

Prannoy had emerged as a player oozing with talent as he won the silver medal of the boys’ section at the inaugural Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010. And through the last seven years, despite some barren spells in between, has always been considered as a serious prospect capable of consistently winning laurels for the country.

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Currently ranked No. 11 in the BWF rankings, the win over Srikanth and the National title can only do a world of good to the confidence of this 25-year-old in his journey ahead. A player who has some great wins against leading international players like Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long and Lin Dan to his credit, Prannoy has also won three BWF Grand Prix titles besides an Interntaional Challenge Series in his career until now.

Vimal Kumar, who was witness to the final in Nagpur, talking to The Hindu said that the triumph of the Kerala player was a good signal of Prannoy gaining consistency. “The lack of consistency was a major problem affecting him all through these years and I am sure, that this win over Srikanth will definitely help concentrate further.

“In my opinion, it is better that he remain confident and prepare hard for the next year’s Coomonwealth Games and the Asian Games before setting his sights on the 2020 Olympic Games,” the former National coach said

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Terming Prannoy’s win as a silver lining for Kerala badminton, George Thomas when contacted said, “Prannoy is a complete player, aggressive and attacking all the time. The biggest weapon in his arsenal are his smashes and I think, we have in him a definite medal prospect at the next Olympic Games.“

At the ground level too, there is suddenly much excitement over Prannoy’s latest achievement and the general feeling is that it would spur him to greater feats in the future.