Kidambi Srikanth had a fairly productive 2015 winning two singles titles as well as two runners-up finishes. The 22-year-old Indian shuttler kickstarted the year on a good note, reaching the final of the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold, where he lost to fellow countryman Parupalli Kashyap.
The Hyderabad-based shuttler subsequently won the Swiss Open as well as the Indian Open. He capped off the international calendar finishing runners-up at the Indonesian Masters, losing to hometown boy Tommy Sugiarto in the summit clash. Srikanth is battle-ready for Bengaluru Top Guns in the Premier Badminton League. He talks about the league and much more in an exclusive interview.
A: Absolutely! The badminton league is happening after a gap of three years and it is a great thing for Indian badminton. I’m really looking forward to it.
Q: What’s your take about the competitiveness of the PBL?
A: I guess it’s going to be a formidable field with so many top players around be it in singles or doubles in both men’s and women’s categories. The PBL will be big fun for sure.
Q: Would you consider standards of the Premier Badminton League in the same bracket as Super Series or Gold Prix Gold?
A: As I have said before, the Premier Badminton League has some big names like Lee Chong Wei and Tommy Sugiarto among others. The league will be as tough as playing in a Super Series or Gold Prix Gold. It’s just that it’s a league and not called by any tournament name and the competitive level will remain the same.
Q: Among the six teams, who do you think are the favourites to win the Premier Badminton League?
A: I reckon all six teams are evenly balanced. It’s difficult to pick any one or two teams as strong contenders. There will be fierce competition and I hope my team – Bangalore Top Guns does well in the league.
Q: Bengaluru Top Guns play their first game against Hyderabad Hunters in the Premier Badminton League.
A: It will be a tough first game for us. Hyderabad Hunters are a strong side and we will have to play out of our skins to beat them.
Q: Are you expected about the prospect of playing Parupalli Kashyap or Lee Chong Wei in one of the singles matches?
A: I’m not sure how things pan out but I will look to put my best foot forward for my team. I think I have lost twice to Kashyap and won once while I have lost four times against Lee Chong Wei.
Q: How handy a platform like Premier Badminton League can be for the Indian junior shuttlers?
A: Undoubtedly, it will be a massive moment for our juniors. This exposure of rubbing shoulders with the world’s best will make them mentally ready when they hit the senior international circuit in the coming years. I have no doubts that our juniors will benefit hugely from the Premier Badminton League.
Q: How important is extensive television coverage of badminton for the sport to prosper in India?
A: It is very important that badminton is televised on a large scale on all channels. Look at cricket – not just live coverage even highlights package after the event is over is regularly shown on channels and players are known by people easily.
As far as badminton is concerned, barring three or four names people don’t even remember the names of our shuttlers and in this regard the coverage of the PBL will not just enhance spectator interest for the sport but also will make many of our guys more familiar in public domain.