Home » News » Sports » Indonesia Open: HS Prannoy Only Bright Spot in India's Campaign in Jakarta
10-MIN READ

Indonesia Open: HS Prannoy Only Bright Spot in India's Campaign in Jakarta

By: Sanjay Sharma

Last Updated: June 19, 2022, 13:09 IST

HS Prannoy (Twitter)

HS Prannoy (Twitter)

Prannoy was the last Indian survivor in the Indonesian Open, a tournament that proved to be difficult for the national contingent, as he reached the semifinals before crashing out to Zhao Jun Peng of China

The cup of woes continued for a hapless PV Sindhu at the Indonesian open, which is offering a whopping, 8 crores, 40 lakhs in prize money.
In fact, the woes are spilling out of the cup for the former world champion, and spiralling out of control.

She was bundled out of the court in her first-round match by He Bing Jiao of China in just 32, minutes 14-21/18-21. Sindhu was sadly out of form and never looked like the player she has been. Maybe it is time she takes a couple of months’ rest to recharge her batteries and then come by to see how she fares against the big guns.

It is not that Bing Jiao was new to her after all this was the 18th time they clashed but the Chinese now leads 10-8 head to head.

India need not look further than Arjun and Dhruv Kapila as a pair that can be a world-beater just like Saisatwik Rankareddy and Chirag Shetty who are a real top-class doubles pair for India. In the Indonesian open this world-ranked 39 duo took on 31-ranked Japanese Matsui and Takeuchi in a power-packed, fast-paced marathon and won a scintillating victory 27-25/18-21/21-19 in 83 minutes of riveting badminton.

Combining extremely well, with perfect synchronisation, Dhruv Kapila was very effective near the net while Arjun controlled nicely from the baseline to carve out this victory. Leading 8-3 and 11-6 at the break in the first game, and then leading comfortably 17-12 the Indians suddenly lost focus allowing the Japanese pair to get to 18-18, losing 4 points on a trot.

Still lovely, Well-controlled serves saw them move to 20-18. Matsui now came out with two great, highly deceptive drop shots to equalise at 20-20. In the extended game, the Japanese held 4 game points and looked set to win, but Arjun and Kapila fought back ferociously every time to equalise, in the end winning this game 27-25.

The second game saw the Indians again leading with ease 11-7 at midway. But strong thrust by the Japanese saw a ding dong battle ensuing for domination. Matsui again came up with great variations in smashes and drops to snatch the game 21-18.

The decider saw leads changing hands very often till 17-17. Kapila playing with great anticipation and control created some good opportunities for Arjun who came out with thunderbolts to move on onto 19-18.

Two lovely net skimming serves by Kapila saw the Indians finally get the decider 21-19.

Lakshya Sen the 20-year-old from Almora in Uttrakhand, who has had such a wonderful two years on the circuit was woefully off-colour in his match against senior compatriot H S Prannoy, crashing out to an astonishing 9-21/10-21 defeat in just 34 minutes in the totally one-sided match.

Lakshya was never in the match. His movements were clumsy and there was simply no control over the shuttle.

Prannoy on the other hand was dynamic on the court, playing with aplomb and positive energy, he was swift in his court coverage and used his overhead area to great advantage. The mixture of half and full-blooded smashes kept Lakshya guessing all the time. It did look as if he was uncomfortable while hitting smashes but then if he was carrying some old injury of his playing shoulder which is flaring up again, as is rumoured, he should not have played the match. Once you are on court you are easy meat. Prannoy on the other hand was fast, decisive and extremely agile. He revelled in following his smash to the net and then hammering the shuttle down with glee.

He raced into really big leads in both games, 11-6 and 13-6 in the first before wrapping it up 21-10. The second saw him annihilate Lakshya by galloping to a facile 18-7. There was no going back now. In fact, Prannoy must be wondering how the match was so easy. After all, we have seen at the German, all England and Indian open, what a die-hard fighter Lakshya is.

His points-winning signature strokes were missing. It was his confidence that will take a big hit for sure. One only hopes that this sort of outing on the court is an aberration as far as the Almora lad is concerned. And should not become a routine.

Coach Vimal Kumar agreed that there seemed to be a problem as his ward was simply not aggressive enough. ” I think that he seemed to have a problem while smashing. I know he is playing with a strapped shoulder.

With the Commonwealth Games to Be held next month followed rapidly by the world championships it may be better if he takes a break, works on his fitness and then goes for tournaments.”

It is ironic that the players who guided India to an extraordinary victory at the Thomas cup last month, are coming out as croppers. Because the legendry Kidambi Shrikanth, also bit the dust against Brice Leverdaz of France which meant that the only Indian survivors in men’s singles left were Prannoy and Sameer Verma.

The incredible factor that catches one’s imagination here is that France with no badminton heritage, culture or background, is producing players of the calibre of Brice Leverdaz who takes on and defeats an outstanding and iconic shuttler like Kidambi Shrikanth. The main reason here is that Paris is hosting the 2024 Olympics and France wants up a good show. The French were galvanised into action after one of their shuttlers Tomas Popov junior, stunned observers by clinching a bronze medal at the 2022 European championship.

Before I come by back to matches of Prannoy and that of Arjun and Kapila let us see how other players performed.

In mixed doubles, our sole entry Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Crasto lost to Cheng Tak and NG Wing 14-21/18-21. In women’s doubles, the veteran pair of Ashwini Ponappa and Sikki Reddy were bundled out by Chen Quing/ Jiay Fan of China 16-21/15-21. Men’s doubles saw Manu Attri and Sumeet Reddy losing out to Japan’s Toke/Hugo Takashi 8-21/11-21.

Harika/ Ashna Roy lost to McPherson and Torrence of Scotland on 10-21/8-21. And another Indian pair in women’s doubles Ashwini Bhatt/ Shikha Gautam were beaten by Zheng Shu/Zheng Yu 8-21/11-21.

MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila lost to world-ranked 118 Chinese Yu Chen Liu and Xuan Yi 19-21/13-21. The Chinese were fantastic at the net, unbelievably fast, where they struck like lightning.

The Indians made constant mistakes by trying to play drive shots on the net but the Chinese would finish the rally then and there. Arjun and Kapila did not want to lift the bird to the baseline as they were afraid of the emanating smashes. But you have more time to react to a smash, however hard it is hit, than a lightning tap which kills the shuttle then and there. The result was that we hardly got into the attack and our defence was tested all the time.

In the first game, though the Indians were behind all the time, a momentary lapse of concentration by Xuan saw Kapila and MR Arjun winning three points in a row to equalise 17-17. But, thereafter it was the Chinese all the way. In the second game, Arjun and Dhruv were outgunned at every step.

The lone Indian left in the fray in this Indonesian open was HS Prannoy as Sameer had also lost. And he had a wonderful time on the court against Ng ka Long Angus of Hong Kong in the pre-quarterfinals. The two had played against each other 7 times with Ng leading 4 to 3. But importantly Prannoy had won the last two encounters. Prannoy won 21-11/21-18 in Jakarta.

He was comfortable all the way through in the first game, moving extremely well and catching Angus on the wrong foot with his deception. The Thomas cup hero of India was in no mood to relent. The sharp drops interspersed with body line smashes in the second game were well on the target. This win against Angus now pitted Prannoy against Rasmus Gemke of Denmark in the quarterfinals. The last time the two met was in the Thomas cup semifinals last month where Prannoy had slipped badly and sprained his left ankle. Still, he carried on gamely, playing an astonishingly controlled game and bravely plodded on to carve out a memorable victory.

In his quarter finals against Gemke, Prannoy was simply unplayable, he was brilliant in every way and totally decimated the Dane, who at world 13 rank was ranked higher than the lanky Indian who is number 23 in the world. Prannoy was in devastating form. This was a masterclass for Gemke. This is the second time that Prannoy had entered the semifinals of this major tournament.

The first was 5 years before. Prannoy was in no mood to be charitable. Leading from the start in both the games, he simply annihilated the hapless Dane.
Running to a 7-1 lead in the first game, with fantastic domination at the net he went to 11-7 as a desperate Gemke tried to bind Prannoy in long rallies. But the absolutely precise smashes on both the flanks of Gemke got him many a point. He went on to lead 14-7 and 19-13 finally wrapping up the first 21-14.

Prannoy has this unique capability of turning in and twisting his torso while in a leap for a smash at the very last moment, changing the direction of the shuttle to go cross-court. So while the opponent is sure the shuttle will come down the line, Prannoy will fool him and go for the cross-court at the very last moment.

This is deception at its very best. Gemke got trapped in this time and again. In the second Gemke tried to put up some fight as till 8-8 they went neck to neck. But after Prannoy came up with awesome retrieves to blunt out any semblance of aggression from the Dane, the frustrated Gemke simply threw in the towel and crashed out 12-21. Prannoy now set up a match in the semifinals against top Chinese Zhao Pung.

In a remarkable career which has seen many ups and downs, as Prannoy is very injury prone, he has had the tenacity to beat 5 legends who are all former world 1 ranked in their time. Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long, Soon Wan Ho and the charismatic Viktor Axelson. So it was expected that he would be able to create magic at the Indonesian open as we had seen him playing in superlative form so far, and make a claim for the title.

But alas, it was not to be. Playing a very subdued semifinal match against top Chinese Zhao Pung, he got beaten comprehensively in two straight games, 16-21/15-21 in just 40 minutes.

Winning the toss he chose a side and not service. He wanted to play against the draft in the stadium. But he got sandwiched between the desire to play good high lifts but ended up playing them out of the baseline. He wanted to play Zhao as much behind as possible since he was hitting thundering smashes and Prannoy wanted to avoid this. In the bargain, Prannoy ended up lifting the bird out.

26-year-old Zhao is a southpaw, a left-hander and these players are very deceptive playing overheads. Prannoy did not think about this virtue and kept on trying to lift what was backhand of the Chinese, who converted this into overhead and rattled points galore.

Prannoy who will be 30 years old next month, looked nervous and slow at the start of the first game but had come to the semifinals without losing a single game, whereas Zhou had two tough matches which were extended to three close games.

But Zhao played with a lot of confidence and aggression. His smashes and the follow-up to the net were really fast and kept Prannoy under pressure. His crosscourt smashes and fast follow-up to the net were really remarkable.

In badminton, the baseline to cross net area is the longest distance to cover, the Chinese southpaw did that with elan. Zhou was always in lead in the first game and won it 21-16. In the second game too Zhou led from the start, in fact, Prannoy was always trailing in both games.

And at 9-14, he lost the plot and any chance of winning the match, falling into a rash of errors and bowed out 15-21.

This was the end of the Indian campaign in Indonesia.

Read all the Latest News , Breaking News , watch Top Videos and Live TV here.

first published:June 19, 2022, 13:04 IST
last updated:June 19, 2022, 13:09 IST