It has been a while since B Sai Praneeth’s name appeared on the right side of the result in a match against a higher-ranked player. His last win against a top 20 player on the international badminton circuit came in November 2019. But on Monday at the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Indoor Stadium in Surat, he came back from a game down to defeat HS Prannoy, one of the in-form players of 2022 on the circuit.
Praneeth’s win was the centerpiece of Telangana’s 3-0 triumph against Kerala in the mixed team event final of the 36th National Games.
The husband-wife pair of Sumeet Reddy and Sikki Reddy put the team in the lead before Sai Praneeth rallied from a game deficit to beat the redoubtable HS Prannoy. Samia Imad Farooqi made quick work of Gowrikrishna to then seal the gold.
Sikki Reddy, who lost in the mixed doubles semifinal of the Vietnam Open on Saturday, with Sumeeeth was first in action against MR Arjun and Treesa Jolly. A one-hour battle went the former’s way.
Sai Praneeth had to dig deep after Prannoy, who is back in the top 15 in the world this week, took the opening game 21-18. The Basel 2019 world championship bronze medallist, who has slipped to No 40 in the world rankings at the moment, fought back and took the second game before forcing the decider.
Even the decider started with Praneeth opening up a big advantage, leading by five points at the change of ends and extending it to 15-7. But Prannoy launched a fine fightback from there to make it a thriller. The scores were level at 18, 19 and 20 as Prannoy saved a match point. But Praneeth held his nerve to complete one of his best wins in recent times.
Badminton Mixed Team final: Telangana beat Kerala 3-0 (Sumeeth Reddy and Sikki Reddy bt MR Arjun and Treesa Jolly 21-15, 14-21, 21-14; Sai Praneeth bt HS Prannoy 18-21 ,21-16, 22-20; Samiya Imad Farooqui beat TR Gowrikrishna 21-5 ,21-12).