PBL 2018: HS Prannoy unfazed by 'highest-paid' player tag at Ahmedabad Smash Masters

HS Prannoy
HS Prannoy

It has hardly been a week since the badminton season ended, but the top shuttlers from around the world will barely have any respite as they converge upon India to take part in the 2018 edition of the Premier Badminton League.

The latest season will see the World No 10 taking to the court as the highest paid shuttler in PBL after the Ahmedabad Smash Masters shelled out Rs 62 lakh for Prannoy. Having shelled out some brilliant performances on the international circuit, where he has earned the tag of being a ‘giantkiller’, defeating the likes of Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long at the Indonesian Open.

While Prannoy was the second string men’s singles shuttler at the Mumbai Rockets last season, his performances on the international circuit have certainly propelled him to be in the top spot in his category at Ahmedabad.

With the PBL season set to get underway in Guwahati, Sportskeeda caught up with Prannoy to discuss his plans for the tournament. Here are some of the excerpts our conversation with him.

Q: You are now the highest-paid shuttler in PBL. How are you living up to the expectations that come with that tag?

A: I had initially felt some amount of pressure, but I don’t feel that anymore. I’ve realized that it’s a team even and that it's not about the individual matches anymore. Instead, its more about how all the players gel together, and how the player takes the responsibility to play a trump match or take some decision about certain matches.

But I do have to play some really big matches, as I am one of the main players in my team this time. Not like last year, when I was the second player on the team in men’s singles. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be challenging, but I think these are going to be some good matches.

Q: How beneficial is to have a top player like women’s singles world no. 1 Tai Tzu-ying in your team?

A: It’s very rare to have such top players like Tai in the team. She’s very elegant on the court, and off court as well, she’s been very chill. She’s one of those players who is happy when things are going for her, and when things aren’t, she just takes it in her stride. You don’t get to see many players like her.

It’s going to be very good for the team to have someone like her. Also, it will be very good to have someone like her in practice. It will be good for the juniors also, who can see her live for the next few weeks. She just goes out there and plays her game. She doesn’t hesitate to play a particular stroke.

It’s just how she is, and what she is. It’s just something that we all can learn – how to be so cool and relaxed on court. She doesn’t think about whats going to come next. To execute in that manner is very tough. She can do anything on the court from any angle. These are some things that we can learn.

Q: Indian shuttlers registered the highest number of Superseries titles – 7 – in 2017, ahead of the likes of Chinese Taipei, Japan and China. What do you think has caused this sudden spurt?

A: There is no one reason for the rise in Indian badminton this year. We have all been working really hard over the last 4-5 years and this is the result of that. Gopi sir (Pullela Gopichand) has been working hard over the last 10 years, and fruits are bearing now. It’s the collective effort of the coaches. Coach Mulyo Handoyo (from Indonesia) came this year, and he had a couple of training sessions also, which helped us a lot. I think the results are the one thing which was really good. Everyone was motivated to work hard on the court. It is a collective effort, and let’s hope it gets better next year.

Q: After mesmerizing us all with his 4 Superseries wins, Kidambi Srikanth could not continue the form after coming back from injury at the Dubai World Superseries Finals. You yourself have suffered injuries a couple of years back. How difficult is it when you’re on a comeback trail from an injury?

A: It’s very difficult when you’re coming back from injury. Basically, you go from 100 to zero. You start from scratch just to hold the racquet. From there it’s a task of getting back your fitness. It's not at all an easy job. Srikanth had one and a half or two weeks there, where so many things cant be done. So I just felt that if he had a couple of more weeks, he would have done better.

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Edited by Soumo Ghosh
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