HS PrannoyMaintaining his remarkable run in the $125,000 Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold Badminton Tournament at Palembang, India’s 22-year old Prannoy Haseena Sunil Kumar emerged as the champion by beating the crowd favorite local hero and qualifier Firman Abdul Kholik 21-11, 22-20. For the No.5 seed Prannoy, it was the first major title of his badminton career and his cause was apparently helped by the absence of world’s top badminton stars. Prannoy had also made an impressive progress last week in the Vietnam Grand Prix in Ho Chi Minh City, where he had reached the final only to lose the final match to another Indonesian Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka 21-18, 15-21, 18-21. Prannoy is not the top Indian player but to his credit, he is the winner of the Boys’ singles title in the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games.

HS Prannoy has been making good progress in international badminton of late and amongst the upcoming Indians, he looks one of the most promising stars along with Kidambi Srikanth. Prannoy hails from the state of Kerala in India and like many of his men and women compatriots; he is a product of Hyderabad’s famous Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy. Currently ranked No.50 in the world, Prannoy made his mark in 2010 at Singapore, where he won the Boy’s singles title in Summer Youth Olympic Games. Last week at Vietnam Grand Prix in Ho Chi Minh City , Prannoy was seeded No.5 in the tournament and he reached the final to come face to face with the No.1 seed Indonesia’s Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka, before bowing out in the final.

After making steady progress in the tournament at Indonesia, Prannoy met Malaysia’s Daren Liew in the semifinal. In a tough match lasting 58 minutes, Prannoy defeated Liew 21-14, 14-21, 21-14. His opponent in the final Kholik, had beaten Malaysia’s Zulfadi Zulkiffli 21-17, 21-15 on his way to the final. Yesterday, the tenacious Indian was in no mood to give up against another Indonesian, Kholik, who was heavily backed by the entire crowd in the stadium. Prannoy ignored the vociferous noise generated in support for his opponent, kept himself composed and finished the match on a winning note. In a duel lasting for 43 minutes, Prannoy played dominating badminton in the first game as he raced to a 6-2 lead and never allowed any foothold to. Kholik after that. In the second game, Kholik began with a 5-3 lead but Prannoy fought back valiantly to make the score 6-6. Playing a better game, the Indian went ahead 9-7 after that. But the doughty Indonesian matched Prannoy and reeled out 5 points in a row to lead 12-9. The match began interesting after this as a see-saw battle continued. At one stage, when the Indian held four match points against Kholik, the Indonesian reeled out another consecutive 4 points to claw back at 20-20. At this juncture, Prannoy dug deep in his resources and keeping himself under control; finished the match 21-11, 22-20.

It was a good tournament for the Indian shuttlers, in which four men advanced to the pre-quarterfinal stage. Other than the champion Prannoy, Ajay Jayaram, B. Sai Praneeth and Anand Pawar reached the pre-quarterfinals. Indian women gave a skip to the tournament, where the field was completely dominated by Indonesian women. The women’s singles winner was Indonesian Adrianti Firdasari, who defeated compatriot Ruselli Hartawan 21-14, 21-14. Incidentally Prannoy was the lone Indian winner of any final as every other event was won by the Indonesians.