Satwik, Sikki biggest gainers in PBL auction

Premier Badminton League (PBL)
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy

Hyderabad: Perhaps the biggest gainers in this year’s Premier Badminton League (PBL) auction could be the fast emerging Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Sikki Reddy. The two doubles specialists took the spotlight as they were brought by Ahmedabad Smash Masters for Rs 52 lakh and Rs 29 lakh respectively.

However, Pranaav Jerry Chopra was one of the unluckiest to miss the bus. It prompted Sumeeth Reddy to sympathize with Chopra, who is incidentally the mixed doubles partner of Sikki.

According to Sumeeth, there were a few positive signs like Satwik, who went for a big sum. “At the same time, few players were unlucky as that they failed to attract the franchises. I think Pranaav being out of the PBL is shocking. He is the top Indian mixed doubles player. It is like a top singles player missing the tournament. Pranaav is still an important figure in Indian doubles. I think something has to be done to arrest this thing.

Premier Badminton League (PBL)

“Even for that matter Slok Ramachandran too will not be playing. I feel sorry for them. It hurts as their morale will be low. In fact, Pranaav has a good record as he played two super series semifinals.’’

But Sumeeth said the Indian doubles is looking up. “If you see the Indian doubles results there has seen some marked improvement in recent times. We have been working hard and it is a matter of time before we can crack the top ten,’’ he said.

For Satwik, it was a huge bonus. “To be honest, I was surprised with the figure. I was expecting around Rs 32 lakh but the franchises showed more faith in me,’’ said the 19-year-old shuttler.

The Amalapuram boy has been one of the fast rising doubles player. He partners Chirag Shetty in the men’s doubles and Ashwini Ponnappa in the mixed doubles. Being a trainee of Gopichand Academy since 2013, the doubles player has been highly spoken by the All England champion himself. “He is one of the most talented doubles players. He has good agility and reads the game very well,’’ said Gopichand.

Even Ashwini Ponnappa was excited about his mixed doubles partner. “This boy is amazing. It is wonderful to have him as his doubles partner. He is encouraging, energetic and fast learner. He has always a smile on his face even in tight situations,’’ said Ashwini.

For Satwik, it is a big challenge. “I’m aware that there will be lot of expectations. I think I have to play both the mixed and men’s doubles for my franchise but I’m ready for the challenge,’’ he said.

South paw Sikki Reddy was also happy with the way the auction went this year. “Personally, I feel happy as I was noticed for my performances. I have been enjoying the game of late. But the omission of Pranaav is little glaring. He is too good player to be ignored.’’