The Bengaluru team in the Premier Badminton League might not have had the time to perfect their bid strategy but they landed all their targets to end the player auction a satisfied lot in New Delhi on Monday. Bengaluru Top Guns bagged world No. 9 Kidambi Srikanth for a staggering $ 80,000 and doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa for $ 30,000, apart from a rough gem in China’s Suo Di for her base price.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to strategize as we got the player list on the morning of the auction. There were some errors in base prices and it was all a bit frenetic. However, I’m happy with the players at our disposal,” said former international player and Top Guns coach Arvind Bhat. “Our targets were Srikanth and Ashwini and we are happy to have landed both, both from a sporting and marketing perspective,” said Bhat.
“I was surprised that nobody went for Di, who can run top players close,” Bhat, 36, said of the Chinese who came into the side for $ 15,000. “She could play a decisive role in women’s singles.”
The 22-year-old Di, whose best singles ranking is world No. 32, ran Indian ace Saina Nehwal close before losing in the pair’s only meeting in the China Open last year. “She has the capacity to give the likes of Saina and Sindhu a run for their money. We are hopeful she will get us some important wins in the 15-point which will be quite fast,” added Bhat, who retired as a player recently.
Bhat, who was contacted a few days ago to take charge as coach and strategist, said Ashwini would play mixed doubles with Dane Joachim Fisher Nielsen ($ 30,000), a partnership that began when the duo played for the Pune team in the erstwhile Indian Badminton League.
Completing the line-up for the Top Guns were Indian singles stars Sameer Verma ($ 22,000) and Anand Pawar ($ 10,000) while B Sumeeth Reddy ($ 25,000) joined Malaysian doubles aces Hoon Thien How ($ 15,000) and Lim Khim Wah ($ 15,000). Scot Robert Blair ($ 5,000) was a late addition to the team. “It’s a balanced squad,” said Bhat.
“Our primary aim was to have a serious singles contender and we chose Srikanth at the outset and didn’t bid for Saina yesterday,” said Prasad Mangipudi of Brand Prix, the owners of the team. “We’re happy to have got him at a decent price. Ashwini will add extra value to our team as she is a local player,” he added.
SAINA, CHONG WEI BAG TOP DEALS
Meanwhile, Saina Nehwal and Malaysian Lee Chong Wei were both sold for the maximum auction price of $ 1,00,000, picked up by Awadh Warriors and Hyderabad Hunters, respectively, a day prior to the auction. Among the big earners on Monday were PV Sindhu ($ 95,000), who will play for Chennai Smashers, HS Prannoy who went to Mumbai Rockets for $ 47,000 and Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto who went to Delhi Acers for $ 74,000.