New Delhi: Kidambi Srikanth joined Saina Nehwal in pulling out of season 5 of Premier Badminton League, but the owner of Bengaluru Raptors feels the Indian shuttler can mentor the team.
"We are definitely going to miss Kidambi (Srikanth) this year, he was phenomenal last year. But this year he wanted to focus on the Olympics and we respect that but it is a blow but we have a good enough team. Also, he will be around and maybe we'll see him mentor our players," Bengaluru Raptors owner said at the press conference following the auction.
Srikanth on the eve of the PBL auctions had taken to social media to announce that he wants to focus on international events with a crucial phase coming up for Indian shuttlers in the race for qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"It's a tough road ahead. Need to go full throttle and fulfill the expectations that lie on me. Hence, I won't be playing PBL this year to focus more on international events. Wish @blr_raptors (Bengaluru Raptors) all the very best and hope for a smashing season this year as well," Srikanth tweeted.
It’s a tough road ahead. Need to go full throttle and fulfill the expectations that lie on me. Hence, I won’t be playing PBL this year to focus more on International events. Wish @blr_raptors all the very best and hope for a smashing season this year as well.
— Kidambi Srikanth (@srikidambi) November 25, 2019
Srikanth's withdrawal cames a day after Saina too withdrew from the tournament to focus on getting some valuable recovery time. Saina has had a lean run in recent tournaments on the tour. Her most recent tournament was the Hong Kong Open that started on November 12. She suffered a first-round exit, which was the fifth time in her last six tournaments that she went out without winning a match.
Organisers of PBL though feel that it is up to the players to choose which tournament they want to play.
"It is the player's priority. And we were aware that major players could pull out for Olympic qualifications. I would say this would have been a great experience because it is a huge event on Indian and I would say international calendar also now but it is alright for players to prioritise," said Atul Pande, managing director of Sportzlive, the official license holder of PBL.
Pune 7 Aces owner and Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu said that even though she will miss Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin, she understands why the Spanish star chose to give this season a miss.
"Of course I would have loved to have Marin on the team but I understand she's coming from a huge injury and wants to concentrate on the Olympic qualifications. Also, we always have Plan B and Plan C. I feel this sets up for a good competition since a lot of teams do not have their best players, so it makes for an interesting battle," Taapsee Pannu said.