What's the story?
The 81st Senior National Badminton Championships has lost one of its top stars as B Sai Praneeth pulled out of the event on Thursday. The world no. 32 suffered a shoulder injury while playing against Sameer Verma in the final of the Syed Modi International on Sunday and has been advised a minimum two weeks of rest.
The 24-year-old, however, did appear for eventual champions Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) in the Inter State-Inter Zonal Badminton Championships that was held at the same venue in Patna from February 1-2.
In case you didn’t know...
Praneeth put up a brilliant performance at the Syed Modi International last week and was the giant-killer en route to the final. He upset the fifth seed Anders Antonsen in the second round and followed it up with a comeback victory over the defending champion Kidambi Srikanth in the semi-finals.
He had a narrow three-game win over the 11th seeded Sourabh Verma in the quarter-finals. Even though he ultimately lost to the eighth-seeded Sameer in the summit clash, his splendid run gave enough glimpses of the abundant talent that he possesses.
The heart of the matter
Despite Sai’s withdrawal, the men’s singles draw at the National Championships still has several top Indian shuttlers participating. HS Prannoy, who remained unbeaten in the second season of the Premier Badminton League, is the top seed, while the Syed Modi International champion, Sameer Verma, is the second seed.
Sameer’s elder brother, Sourabh, is the third seed, while 20-year-old Harsheel Dani round up the top four seeds.
The draw also has the young Lakshya Sen, who climbed to the pinnacle of the junior world rankings this week. The 15-year-old is seeded 14th.
The women’s singles draw might not have the biggest stars – Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu – but the next best stars are there in the draw. Tanvi Lad is the top seed, while rising star Rituparna Das is the second seed.
Sai Praneeth will next be seen in action at the prestigious All England Championships, scheduled to begin from March 7.
The National Championships promises to be a thrilling affair despite Sai Praneeth’s pullout. With so much quality on display, the competition is expected to be exciting and will definitely be a major boost for the domestic growth of the sport.Published 03 Feb 2017, 22:07 IST