Even as icon player Ashwini Ponnappa lashed out at the Indian Badminton League (IBL) organisers, alleging that the auctions were handled poorly, Maharashtra player Pradnya Gadre, ranked 61 in mixed doubles, is elated at the response she generated from the Hyderabad franchise. She was bagged by the Hotshots for a whopping USD 46,000 and was amongst the 10 most expensive signings of the IBL.
The million-dollar prize money tournament will be held between August 14-31 at six centres — Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow and New Delhi. “Frankly, I didn’t expect I would be bought for such a high price. I was stunned when I got to know about the price, and before I could digest it I reconfirmed with many people,” said the 22-year-old Nashik-born shuttler.
“IBL will give me the much needed popularity in Nashik and other places too. But I am aware that with popularity, I will also have to handle greater responsibility as far as my performances are concerned. I am ready to deliver.” When asked how she felt receiving a higher bid than Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta, Gadre said, “I am just happy with the news. I cannot compare my price with any other player.”
Though she is primarily a doubles specialist — the event that doesn’t feature in the tournament — Gadre said that would not hamper her showing. “It hurts that doubles is not a category in IBL. But I play mixed doubles too. Hence, it shouldn’t affect my game so much in the tournament,” she explained.
Gadre believes the IBL is a blessing for many shuttlers in the country, in the sense that it will help them learn from some of the world’s best players. “Taufik Hidayat has been my idol for long. It’s wonderful to watch him play and now he is a part of our team. I would want to make the most of the experience and learn as much as I can from him,” she said.
Gadre, a trainee at the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad is glad to have been picked by her ‘home team’. “Hyderabad is my second home. Playing for the same team is a matter of pride for me.” The past few months were tough on Gadre as her father was not keeping well. But she has overcome the stress and is keenly looking forward to the league.
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