He almost didn’t make it to Indonesia in the first place, but when he did get there, he sure as hell made the most of it. Last week, HS Prannoy was preparing himself for yet another no-show at the Indonesia Open after his passport looked to be stuck at the office of the Canadian visa authorities.
After multiple pleas on social media from some of India’s top shuttlers, the Indian government acted swiftly and just in the nick of time, Prannoy and the rest of the contingent were able to receive their passports and reach Jakarta for the tournament.
It was a tough test of the shuttlers’ resolve and patience but for Prannoy, a tougher test lay ahead on the court in the form of 21-year-old Anthony Ginting. The youngster from Indonesia is a tricky opponent to face and given Prannoy’s recent run of form, he was in for a tough battle.
However, the match turned out to be a real one-sided affair in favour of the Indian, who coasted to a straight-game victory. It took Prannoy 42 minutes to seal his berth in the next round, winning 21-13 21-18.
Next up in the draw for Prannoy was none other than the legend himself – Malaysian Lee Chong Wei. The former world number one had scraped through to the Round of 16, coming from behind to defeat Tommy Sugiarto in his opening fixture.
The top seed, despite the previous result, surely started as the favourite against the unseeded Prannoy. But once the match began, the Indian overpowered Wei with a barrage of powerful smashes and raced into 7-1 lead in the first game. He kept his advantage and didn’t allow the veteran to make his way back, winning a streak of six points at 11-7 and eventually closing the game out at 21-10.
The second game was much more competitive as the Malaysian looked to upset Prannoy’s momentum. The first ten points were equally shared by both shuttlers but the next six saw the Indian race into a 10-6 lead. The heat was on for Wei and he responded in style, reeling off a series of points and taking the lead at 13-12.
It was now Prannoy’s turn to be under the cosh and he stuck to his guns, continuing his power game and never letting Wei seize control of the tie. He took four points in a row next, making it 16-13 in his favour but once again, his illustrious opponent equalized at 17-17.
From that point, it was anybody’s game and much to his credit, Prannoy rose to the occasion once again and with three swift points, brought up three game point opportunities. Wei could only save one of those and conceded defeat at 21-18, thus ending his run at the tournament he has won six times in the past.
The Indian is now into the last eight and will face either Chen Long or Jonatan Christie for a place in the semis. It has been a memorable tournament for Prannoy so far and here’s hoping he continues his run tomorrow!Published 15 Jun 2017, 17:25 IST