For quite a few years, badminton in India was all about Saina Nehwal as she used to be the only one who had kept the Indian flag high at various tournaments. No doubt Saina is the one who has established Indian badminton on the world stage.
Then we saw the arrival of PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth and a few other players such as HS Prannoy, B Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma. But still India has failed to become a powerhouse in badminton and it is all due to the fact that we don't have as many upcoming players as other countries like China, Japan and Indonesia have.
But there are a few young players that have shown the potential to be a future star. And with the Premier Badminton League Season 4 giving them an opportunity to showcase their talent against the best in the world, they surely have the best chance to learn what it takes to be the best in the world.
Here are 5 young players that are looking to announce their arrival on the big stage through PBL Season 4:
#1 Lakshya Sen
The front-runner in this list is nobody other than Lakshya Sen. Born on 16 August 2001, Lakshya is the former junior World No. 1 and has recently won the Tata Open India International Challenge 2018. He is a Gold medalist at the Asian Junior Championship 2018, Silver medalist at the Youth Olympics 2018 and Bronze medalist at the World Junior Championship 2018.
He will represent Pune 7 Aces, a team which has players such as Carolina Marin, Vladimir Ivanov and Chirag Shetty. Due to his remarkable run in 2018, he has been bought for Rs. 11 lakh, a price which is more than what Parupalli Kashyap has been paid by his team Chennai Smashers. If he is given a chance, this 17-year-old can definitely upset some big names in PBL 2018.
#2 Siril Verma
Born on 25 December 1999, 18-year-old Siril Verma used to be called the next Pullela Gopichand, as not only his physical features, but also his playing style is quite similar to his coach and mentor Gopichand. He had won Silver medal at the World Junior Championship 2015 and also finished as the runner-up at the Russia Open Grand Prix 2016.
He might have achieved brilliant results at the junior level but there is no doubt that he has struggled to establish himself at the senior level. And with PBL Season 4, he surely has an opportunity to learn from his senior teammates and apply the same in his game and career.
He has been bought for Rs. 3 lakh by North Eastern Warriors which has players such as Saina Nehwal, Kim Ha Na and Yoo Yeong Seong of Korea, among others.
Lakshya Sen and Siril Verma are the best bets for India in men's singles at the 2024 Olympics.
#3 Kuhoo Garg
In women's doubles, we have seen only one Indian duo that has done brilliantly at the international level. That duo is none other than Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa. But since their split, Ashwini is also struggling at the international level with N. Sikki Reddy.
The reason behind not having many girls and boys playing doubles in India is that not many Indian badminton players aspire to be a doubles specialist from a very young age, but Kuhoo Garg is definitely an exception in this case. At an age of just 20, she has won numerous International Challenge and International Series titles with her partner Rohan Kapoor in mixed doubles and with Riya Mukherjee in women's doubles.
Kuhoo Garg definitely possesses the talent to be the next star of Indian badminton in the doubles category. She has been bought for Rs 2 lakh by Mumbai Rockets.
#4 Anura Prabhudesai
All the Indian badminton fans and Indian badminton pundits have a common and a constant question: "Who after Saina and Sindhu?"
In men's singles, India has good depth in terms of the number of upcoming players as many have already started shining at a very young age. But the same scenario is not visible in women's singles.
But there are a few girls that have the potential to shine at the big stage and one of them is definitely Anura Prabhudesai. The lanky Indian is the first player from Goa to achieve No. 1 ranking in BAI rankings.
Anura, despite being a tall player, has a very swift movement on the court which helps her to unsettle her opponents easily. Injuries have been halting her performances at the senior level.
But now she is completely fit to play in PBL. She has been bought for Rs. 1 lakh by the Mumbai Rockets which has players such as Lee Yong-Dae and Sameer Verma.
#5 Arjun M.R.
Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankyreddy have managed to establish themselves with their consistent performances in the men's doubles category. But there is one other badminton player in the doubles category that deserves to be ranked with the best in the world.
That player is Arjun M.R, who was ranked as high as no. 3 in BWF Junior Men's Doubles Rankings. He has been ranked as high as 32 in the BWF men's doubles rankings along with R. Shlok.
He won the gold at Hellas Open 2018 with K. Maneesha in mixed doubles and also a gold medal in men's doubles category with R. Shlok.
But recently he teamed up with Indian men's doubles veteran B.Sumeeth Reddy and went on to win gold at the recently-concluded Tata Open India International Challenge, despite being a scratch combination.
For making India a powerhouse in badminton world, we certainly need to have good doubles players. And Arjun has all that it takes to be a big tournament player if given good mentorship.
He has been bought by Awadhe Warriors for Rs. 5 lakh which also has players such as Son Wan Ho, Ashwini Ponnappa and Mathias Christiansen.