Established stars with marketable images made a killing at the inaugural Indian Badminton League auction with womens World No.3 Saina Nehwal and Malaysias Lee Chong Wei,the mens World No.1,being sold for $120,000 and $135,000 respectively. Saina and Chong Wei were both icon players whose base price was $50,000 as was Parupalli Kashyap and PV Sindhu.
The mens World No.13 Kashyap was bought by the Bangalore franchise,Banga Beats,for $ 75,000 while Sindhu cost Lucknow Warriors $80,000. Four of the six icon players justified their status,but a young Indian brigade too made a mark. Among those budding stars,doubles specialist Pradnya Gadre,21,was bought by Hyderabad Hotshots for four times her base price of $10,000. Mixed doubles player K Maneesha,18,was bought by Lucknow Warriors for $26,000 though bidding for her started at $4,000.
Gadre and Maneesha gained from their recent upswing in form as much as from the fact that teams had kept money in reserve to complete their mixed doubles pairing after picking the men partners who came up for auction earlier. Arun Vishnu,Tarun Kona and Pranav Jerry Chopra were the Indian mens doubles players who made good money.
BIDDING WAR FOR GADRE
Gadre has teamed up with Ashwini Ponnappa in the womens doubles recently but such was the nature of the auction that while her senior partner,an icon,player went at her base price of $25,000 to Pune Pistons,Gadre pocketed $ 46,000. Jwala Gutta,Ashwinis former partner gained only $6000 over her base price of $25,000.
The Lucknow Warriors were also in the running to bag Gadre but had to settle for their back-up option Maneesha. Both Gadre and Maneesha are wards of the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.
The upcoming crop of Indias men singles players also bagged handsome amounts. K Srikanth,the 20-year-old from Guntur,had won the Thailand Open Grand Prix in June by beating Boonsak Ponsana,the world No.4. Srikanth who had a base price of $15,000 went for $34,000 to Lucknow Warriors. Incidentally,Ponsana went unsold as none of the teams were willing to spend upwards of $50,000,which was his base price.
Another youngster Sai Praneeth too reaped the rewards of his recent good form as the Delhi Smashers picked him up for $40,000,which was $25,000 more than his base price. Praneeth had beaten former World No.1 Taufik Hidayat and Hu Yun,the current World No.6 from Hong Kong earlier this year. RMV Gurusaidutt too had a good day when he was bought by Lucknow Warriors for $40,000.
Among the international players,Germanys Juliane Schenk,30,attracted fierce bidding from Delhi Smashers and Pune Pistons before the latter bagged her for $90,000.