Telangana’s B. Sai Praneeth won a thriller against Kerala’s in-form H.S. Prannoy 18-21, 21-16, 22-20 to help his state lift the badminton mixed team gold in the 36th National Games here on Monday.
In the women's singles rubber, Samiya Farooqui routed T.R. Gowrikrishna in straight games (21-5, 21-12) to give Telangana a lot to celebrate.
Their victory came on the heels of another brilliant show by the husband-and-wife duo of Sumeeth Reddy and Sikki Reddy who got the better of the young pair of M.R. Arjun and Treesa Jolly 21-15, 14-21, 21-14 in a thrilling battle. Experienced Sumeeth and Sikki were fielded ahead of Vishnuvardhan Goud and Gayatri Gopichand, who lost against Maharashtra.
Sumeeth and Sikki, however, struggled to get the going against Arjun and Treesa before taking the game 21-15.
Talking about the win, Sikki said, “We were playing after a long time. We don’t even practice together as we quite often get into arguments. It took some time to get into a rhythm. But once we found our groove, we got into a good rhythm."
In the second game, the Kerala pair again started on a gutsy note and won it 21-14, with Arjun sending powerful smashes from the backline and Treesa being efficient at the net.
The third game went close till 12-all before a change of strategy did the trick for Telangana.
“I think the turning point was when I went for variations in my service, not giving them any length,’’ Sikki explained.
Praneeth, who won the men's singles rubber in a thrilling three-game contest against Prannoy, said, “I was suddenly blank as Prannoy began to play a fast game. With the shuttle also coming off slowly, I was a little taken aback. But luckily, I held on to my nerves and pulled off this crucial win. It will boost my morale."