PBL: Prannoy looks forward to maiden stint with Ahmedabad

As the highest-ranked player for the Ahmedabad Smash Masters, H. S. Prannoy is keen to fulfil the team management’s expectations.

The Premier Badminton League has valuable lessons for a participating youngster, notes H. S. Prannoy.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

The close interactions with world’s top players and thereby, an exposure to the ways they prepare for matches, are valuable takeaways from the Premier Badminton League, according to H. S. Prannoy, India’s national badminton champion and the World No. 10. The league will be played across five cities from December 23, 2017 to January 4, 2018 this year.

Prannoy is the highest-ranked player possessed by Ahmedabad Smash Masters (ASM) in the new team’s inaugural stint in the tourney. ASM is one of two new franchises to debut this year; North-Eastern Warriors is other.

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“When you are ranked high, people expect you to deliver. I feel good when team management has expectations from me,” Prannoy said.

‘Fun event’

The challenge for him, as for others, will be compounded by the compulsion to adjust to a different points format. The PBL matches will be played on a 15-points format, a change from the 11-points last season. “As a player, you need to be prepared for everything. PBL is a fun event, at the same time you are pitted against some of the world’s best,” said Prannoy, adding, “The 15-points format is going to be tricky, between 11-points and 21-points. You don’t know when to change gears and when to push through. There is more time to catch up.”

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Prannoy also pointed out the two-way nature of supposed advantage gained by Indians in the league. “When you play someone, they will know about your game and vice versa. Others will be better prepared, so there are pros and cons. In a Super Series tournament, the feeling is different. Matches go to 21 points, best-of-three games and there is no one supporting you. Super Series is different from a league in many aspects,” he said.

Invaluable information

However, Prannoy did admit there were valuable lessons to be learned by youngsters from the best of participants. “Viktor Axelsen came to Bengaluru Blasters last season and Sourabh Verma had a chance to interact with him. Everyone is busy with their own preparation in a tournament, but during the league, you get to know how top players better, observe them closely. In a team event, the interaction leads to a lot of information.”

PBL is a great place to learn, asserted Prannoy, adding: “For a junior coming into the team, has no idea what is happening at the world level. The youngster gets to see Tai Tzu-Ying (women’s World No. 1) and become familiar with what all she does differently. All these things we cannot find in any other event and is the best part of PBL.”

Denmark’s Kamilla Ryter Juhl, Hong Kong’s Lee Chunhei Reginald and Law Cheuk Hun, and Bulgaria’s Stefani Stoeva make up the foreign delegation in Prannoy’s side, while Sourabh Verma, Kidambi Nandagopal, Siril Verma and Srikrishna Priya form the Indian contingent in the side that is owned by Padmanabh Sport. The franchise has also announced a talent scouting programme, named Future Stars, in Ahmedabad midway this month. The best talent will train with the elite team.