The 2016 edition of the Premier Badminton League will get underway in the financial capital of India-Mumbai- on Saturday. The opening day of the competition will see the hosts, the Mumbai Rockets take on the Lucknow-based Awadhe Warriors.
Here’s what to expect from the opening match:
Men’s Singles: HS Prannoy(MR) vs Sourabh Verma(AW)
The first out of the two Men’s Singles for the night will see World No. 20 and one of the main components of the Rockets HS Prannoy play one of the emerging players in the Awadhe Warriors, Sourabh Verma.
While Prannoy may be ranked higher than his opponent in the rankings, it is Verma who leads the head-to-head between the two, having won on both occasions that they have met in 2013.
But past meetings will matter for little when the two take to the court on Saturday and it will be interesting to see who comes on top in this encounter.
Women’s Singles: Li Han(MR) vs Saina Nehwal(AW)
China’s Li Han will have a tough task on her hand when she faces up against World No.2 Saina Nehwal in the Women’s Singles contest of the night. The head-to-head is in favour of the Indian, who leads 2-1.
It would interesting to see if either, employ the ‘Trump Match’ on this match or if they wait for the doubles or the other Men’s Singles tie. Regardless, this certainly will be the most anticipated tie of the night and it would be intriguing to see who emerges victorious.
Men’s Singles: RMV Gurusaidutt(MR) vs Sai Praneeth(AW)
If at least based on head-to-head Sourabh Verma has the slightest of edges over Prannoy, then the second Men’s Singles contest of the night has absolutely nothing to separate between the two opponents.
The head-to-head between the two is 1-1 and while the focus on the night could be more on the likes of Saina, Prannoy etc, it wouldn't be wrong to say it could be this contest that may provide the most exciting match on the night simply because both players are of the same age group and both will look to impress their fellow teammates in order to stake a claim to get bigger matches in the upcoming days.
Men’s Doubles: Manu Attri/Mathias Boe(MR) vs Sourabh Verma/Cai Yun(AW)
It would fair to say that the Awadhe Warriors will enter as the favourites into this match, purely because of the presence of Cai Yun in their ranks. The 35-year-old is a seasoned professional with an unbelievable track record that includes 1 Olympic Gold and Silver, 4 World Championships Gold medals and 1 World Cup Gold in 2006 in the Mixed Doubles.
But in Mathias Boe, the Rockets too have an experienced campaigner, who has also seen a lot of success in his career. So it will be intriguing to see which 35-year-old comes out on top in this contest.
For someone like an Attri, this serves a superb opportunity to work in tandem with Boe and thereby add a few a new tricks to his repertoire.
Mixed Doubles: Mathias Boe/Kamilla Juhl(MR) vs Hendra Gunawan/Christinna(AW)
As much importance that Boe will have in the Men’s Doubles, he could play an equally significant role in the Mixed Doubles, partnering Kamilla Juhl of Denmark in the Mixed Doubles tie against the Indonesian-Denmark pair of Hendra Gunawan and Christinna.
It is Christinna, who among the two women in has tasted more success on the international stage, having won three Gold medals at the European Championships in the Mixed Doubles, Two bronze medals in the World Championships and an Olympic Bronze in the Mixed Doubles in London 2012.
Juhl, on the other hand, has clinched one Gold, Silver and a Bronze at the World Championships. So it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in this clash and whether this could prove to be the most decisive match of the day.
Note: The singles and doubles match-ups are as per our assumptions for the most obvious player combinations. They are subject to change if one or more of the players are unavailable from either team, or if the team managements decide to change the combinations based on current form