Badminton in India is scaling new heights every passing year and HS Prannoy is the prime example of that revolution. Rising up through the ranks, the boy from Kerala has made a mark of himself on the international badminton circuit. Having participated in six superseries this year, HS Prannoy managed to reach the at least the 4th round on an average.
‘HS Prannoy’ as he is fondly called by his mates in the badminton circuit, is on a high of sort at the moment. His performance has raised the bar every time he steps on the court And to add to the delight, Prannoy was the costliest player auctioned for Premier Badminton League season 3.
New Franchisee Ahmedabad Smasher Masters bought the services of Prannoy for a jaw dropping Rs. 62 Lakh. This was surprising as even the foreign participants for PBL didn’t command such a sum.
But, HS Prannoy as a professional athlete is not letting the monetary gains clutter his mind. He’s training hard for Premier Badminton League season 3 and gelling up with the players.
2018 is the year of HS Prannoy
If 2017 was the year where Kidambi Srikanth rewrote history, 2018 could be the year of HS Prannoy. The lad for Thiruvananthapuram broke into top 10 world rankings few weeks back. He contested fiercely and beat world class shuttlers like Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long, Taufik Hidayat, Lin Dan and even compatriot Kidambi Srikanth in a gripping final at the Senior Nationals.
Well for this young boy it surely doesn’t hurt to be the highest paid player of the Premier Badminton League, season 3.
“I never thought I would be a great competitor at this level,” says HS Prannoy. He has created a reputation for being a giant killer on the international circuit.
“I was just lucky enough to play all those big names and beat them. When you get a few good wins, things start going your way,” he further adds.
Prannoy’s tête-à-tête with badminton was nothing short of love at first sight. His father Sunil Kumar was also a badminton player. And as tradition in Indian families, the skills of his dad got into him and a result he liked playing badminton right from the first moment.
HS Prannoy grinding it out on the international circuit
After rising through the ranks in junior and national level, HS Prannoy took a leap into international circuit. His career defining moment came at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics where this young boy from Kerala bagged his first silver medal. From that point of time his relationship with the racquet and the shuttle became one for a lifetime.
It was in 2014, the world once again took notice of HS Prannoy as he won the Indonesian Open Grand Prix Gold.
From 2014, HS has been consistent in his international performances and a challenger for titles. But the results didn’t go as planned and the big prize eluding him frequently.
HS Prannoy and his rivalry with Kidambi Srikanth
There were moments when he lost the battle to compatriot, Kidambi Srikanth at the other end of the court. But according to him this loss was somewhat tolerable.
Prannoy says, “Losing to friends is always better that losing to others.” Even Srikanth liked the high-octane semifinal win against Prannoy as a major aid in winning the French Open Super Series.
But, what about his cordial chemistry with Srikanth? Does it take the teeth out of the possible rivalry that have historically made players reach the top of their game?
“That’s true,” agrees Prannoy. “But the bond we share is difficult to explain. We meet each other every day; we practice with each other for hours. Yet, when we are on the court, everyone’s on their own. We make sure to make each other go the extra mile for every point. But once the match is over, we sit for meals together and that match is never talked about.”
HS Prannoy taking down Srikanth at the 82nd National championship
At the recently concluded 82nd Senior Nationals it was a sweet revenge for H S Prannoy as he outwitted World No 2 for the title.
Second seed Prannoy, who at that time was ranked World No 11, saw off top seed Srikanth 21-15 16-21 21-7 in a 49-minute thriller. Before the national finals HS had suffered a semifinal loss to his compatriot at the French Open Super Series.
Excitement level of the fans was high once they knew Srikanth and Prannoy made it to the finals. Badminton lovers were not disappointed as the match turned out to be an exhilarating one. Both the shuttlers displayed their repertoire of strokes and athleticism during the fast-paced rallies in the finals.
Before the 82nd national finals Srikanth and HS Prannoy were pitted against each other four times in their international career. However, Kidambi was always the one who had the last laugh. The only time Prannoy beat Srikanth was way back at the 2011 Tata Open.
2017 has truly been the year of Kidambi Srikanth. The shuttler has been in the form of his life this year as he clinched four titles after reaching five finals. However, for HS Prannoy all the statistics didn’t matter, and he showed why his wins over Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long this season were no fluke.
Career Timeline of HS Prannoy
Early career of HS Prannoy
HS Prannoy came to prominence after winning the silver medal in Boys’ singles at 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.
Not stopping there he followed it up with silver, this time at the Bahrain International Challenge in 2011.
But tragedy struck in the form of injuries and a barren spell followed Prannoy following the earlier achievements.
Nothing much to rejoice in 2013
In 2013, HS Prannoy managed to reach the final of the Tata Open International Challenge. However not fully fit, he lost to fellow GoSports Foundation athlete Sourabh Verma in the final.
Back to groove in 2014
HS was back to his groove in 2014. He claimed two All India Senior National Ranking Championships.
Prannoy won the Manorama Indian Open All India Senior Ranking Badminton Tournament in Kerala and the V.V.Natu Memorial All India Senior Ranking Badminton Tournament in Pune.
However, it was his achievements at the international circuit that caught everyone’s attention.
HS Prannoy was the semi-finalist at the 2014 India Open Grand Prix, and the Bitburger Open Grand Prix. He also participated as a semifinalist at The Macau Open Grand Prix and the Sri Lanka Open International Badminton Challenge in Colombo.
Prannoy again surprised one and all by reaching the final of the 2014 Vietnam Open Grand Prix. He lost to number one seed and tournament favourite Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka of Indonesia.
In the very next tournament, the Indonesia Open Grand Prix, HS Prannoy went one better, this time beating local favourite Firman Abdul Kholik of Indonesia in straight sets.
Prannoy managed to end the year on a high as the third highest ranked Indian at 21.
Continuing the good form in 2015
HS Prannoy started off the year on a good note reaching the semifinals of the 2015 India Open Grand Prix. He put up a spirited performance in the Semi’s before going down compatriot Srikanth Kidambi in 3 sets.
Prannoy’s greatest victory came in the Pre-Quarters of 2015 India Super Series when he beat an in form world number 2 Jan Ø. Jørgensen in 3 sets. This was probably his best performance so far earning him a lot of praise from all quarters.
Prannoy gave his best in the Quarter Finals too, but ultimately Viktor Axelsen proved to be too good for him.
2016 was not that bad
HS Prannoy kick-started 2016 on a good note by beating the German Marc Zwiebler in the finals of the Swiss Open Grand Prix by 21-18,21-15.
2017 – A Dominating Shuttler has arrived
HS Prannoy played for the Mumbai Rockets franchise in the 2017 season of the Premier Badminton League.
In Indonesian Open he defeated Lee Chong Wei, the reigning Olympic Silver medalist. He also overcame Chen Long, the reigning Olympic Champion in consecutive matches.
At US Open, Prannoy defeated Vietnamese Tien Minh Nguyen to reach the finals against Parupalli Kashyap.
And as mentioned earlier, a sweet revenge came when he clinched the 82nd Senior Nationals defeating his friend and world no 2 Kidambi Srikanth.
The Indian Badminton players are dominating the world tournaments and international grand prix. Countries like Denmark, England and China who have a history of producing world class shuttlers are facing a stiff competition from Indians at various events.
As of now, the best players in the world, men and women have congregated in India for the lucrative Premier Badminton League season 3. And considering the form HS Prannoy is in, we are sure 2018 is the year, where this boy from Kerala will dominate the world circuit convincingly.