Sourabh Verma's stay at the top lasted for all of nine months. The reigning national champion was stunned in the second round of the Senior National Badminton Championship here, losing to a little-known shuttler from Chhattisgarh, Shreyansh Jaiswal.
At the Sher-e-Kashmir stadium, Shreyansh entered the stadium almost having made up his mind that this would be his first and last match in the tournament. Shreyansh had a bye in the first round and he was convinced that it would take a superhuman effort to beat Sourabh, who has been in tremendous form since last year. Shreyansh matched the world no.33 in every aspect of the game to win 18-21, 21-17, 21-15 to move into the third round on Sunday. "It (the feeling) has yet to sink in," the 17-year-old Shreyansh said. "I have seen Sourabh play, though never faced him in a match. And, frankly, before the match, I was not expecting this result."
The last five years under Dronacharya Awardee coach SM Arif in Hyderabad prepared him well for the marathon match, which lasted 52 minutes. His previous outing in the Senior Nationals earlier this year in Bangalore ended in a second-round defeat to Sourabh's younger brother Sameer.
Shreyansh had the inkling that this match would be quite close since he was able to get a sizable lead in the second game after losing the first. He led an 11-4 in the second and that played on his mind. "When I realised that I had the lead, it started slipping out of my hand as Sourabh started winning points. He closed the gap to 18-16, and that's when I told myself to think about only the next point," Shreyansh said.
Having won the second game, the decider saw the 6-feet tall shuttler from a small town near Bilaspur race ahead to victory from 13-all as fellow participants cheered him on. "I just tried to retrieve the shuttle as much as possible." And it worked against Sourabh, nicknamed the 'retrieving machine'.
Shreyansh is here with his mother Savita, who said after the match that going by previous experience, she had booked an early ticket out. But this time she is hoping to stay till the end.