Srinagar: It must rank as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the national badminton championships.
Defending champion Sourabh Verma fell in his first match (second round) of the national championships to Shreyansh ‘Lucky’ Jaiswal 18-21 21-17 21-15, heralding the start of what might be an upset-ridden national championships.
The 17-year-old Jaiswal, called ‘Lucky’ by his friends at the Mohd Arif Academy where he trains, took down the defending champion and top seed with relative ease to enter the third round. Verma, who was coming off a campaign at the China Masters, had a bye in the first round. “I never played him before,” said Jaiswal. “He is the defending champion and when I went into the match, I thought I will lose. But then in the second game, I started retrieving everything and it put pressure on him. I slowly grew in confidence and I am extremely happy with my effort,” said Jaiswal.
Sourabh said he was unsure of the right strategy. “I won the first game but in the second midway, I was in two minds with my strokes. I was confused what strokes to play and ended up making too many errors. Initially I was confident of rubbing off the deficit but then I got under pressure,” Sourabh said.
Sourabh’s international teammates too stuttered in their early rounds. Kashyap scratched together a 21-18 21-16 win over fifth seed Akshit Mahajan; Anup Sridhar struggled past Srujan Nandaluri 22-20 19-21 21-10, while Ajay Jayaram too was taken to three games by Rohan Castelino 21-8 20-22 21-12.
The tournament thus wears an open look, without a firm favourite. Among the contenders are Sai Praneeth, who eased into the third round, and eighth seed K Srikanth. Experienced hands Arvind Bhat, Chetan Anand and Anand Pawar too might pose a threat to the younger contenders.
In contrast, there was no trouble for the women’s singles defending champion, PV Sindhu. She had it easy against Juhi Dewangan to enter the third round. Other contenders like PC Thulasi (7), Trupti Murgunde, Sayali Gokhale (2), and Neha Pandit (1) remained on course.