Pradnya Gadre has a career best international doubles ranking of 27. She won her first national title, in doubles, in 2012. She has also won the Swiss International doubles title in 2011. But that is the sum total of her significant achievements. So it was with some surprise that she was sold for $46,000 in the Indian Badminton League player auction on Tuesday.
Even Gadre was taken aback, telling Mid-Day that “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,” she said.
On the other hand, Icon player Ashwini Ponnappa who won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and a bronze at the World Championships in 2011, was sold for just $25,000, half her original base price of $50,000. The change in her base price did not sit well with Ponnappa, who felt humiliated (the same thing happened to her former doubles partner Jwala Gutta).
Gadre happens to be Ponnappa’s new doubles partner, but that still does not explain the gap in their value to franchises in the new IBL.
Now there appears to be evidence to explain this discrepancy. Gadre’s player card, which was given to all the franchises, appears to list Ponappa’s achievements instead of her own (see photo).
It has her winning gold at the Commonwealth Games when she did not take part in, when it was Ponnappa who won the gold. She didn’t win a bronze at the World Championships either.
She did reach the quarterfinals of the Malaysian Open this year though – with Ponnappa has her partner.
The explanation given by the organisers for reducing Ponnappa's base price was the lack of recognisable names in women's doubles that led to the removal of the format from the league. But that, Ponnappa said, did not make sense.
“The double’s excuse simply doesn’t hold. If that’s the case then how come my partner Pradyna Gadre went for $46,000. I have nothing against her — but the doubles excuse doesn’t stand."
Perhaps now the mystery can be put to rest - the franchises might have been swayed into bidding more for Gadre because the organisers turned her into Ponnappa.