PBL 2018: Sai Praneeth achieves unique record in win over Kidambi Srikanth
What’s the story?
The Hyderabad Hunters’ B Sai Praneeth became the first player at the ongoing Premier Badminton League (PBL) 2018 to have a flawless 8-0 lead over his opponent going into the mid-game interval during the Hunters’ tie against the Awadhe Warriors at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Sunday.
Sai was facing the World No. 3 Kidambi Srikanth in the match, whom he convincingly beat 15-10, 15-10, despite a late surge from the India No. 1 men’s singles shuttler.
This was Sai’s first win after three consecutive defeats at the current season of the PBL. Sai’s emphatic win contributed to what was an absolutely memorable night for the Hunters, who thumped the Lucknow franchise, 6-(-1).
In case you didn’t know..
Kidambi Srikanth has traditionally struggled against Sai Praneeth’s deceptive strokeplay and that is validated by the latter’s 5-2 head-to-head record over his compatriot. Even last year, Sai won two out of their three meetings, with his biggest win coming at the Singapore Open Superseries final.
The heart of the matter
Kidambi Srikanth has not been in the best of form at the PBL 2018 and is certainly not the same player, who won four Superseries titles in the last season. He has been extremely error-prone and very much lacks the confidence that he was oozing in every performance in 2017.
He has been highly inconsistent at the PBL 2018 and managed to win just two out of his four matches prior to his showdown with Sai.
Srikanth began the match well and went into the mid-game interval with an 8-6 advantage in the first game. But he couldn’t do much after that as Sai went racing to 12-8, bagging six points on the trot.
The World No. 3 could only get hold of two more points as the Hyderabad Hunters shuttler wrapped up the opener.
A determined Sai continued his brilliant run opening up an astonishing 8-0 lead at the break as Srikanth unbelievably failed to fetch even a single point. The latter did eventually make it a four-point gap at 9-13 with a good fightback, but it proved to be too late.
Since Sai trumped the Warriors’ Trump, the Awadhe team lost whatever little opportunity they had of coming back into this match.
The Hyderabad Hunters next take on the Bengaluru Blasters at home in Hyderabad on January 11.
While Srikanth’s poor form is a cause of concern, it is nice to see Sai get such a confidence-boosting win, which will surely augur well for the upcoming season.