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2016 Premier Badminton League: Can The Bengaluru Top Guns register their maiden win tonight?

826   //    06 Jan 2016, 16:04 IST
Kidambi Srikanth has been in good form for the Top Guns so far

Armed with the presence of the World Championships silver medallist Saina Nehwal, the Awadhe Warriors will look to win their second match on the trot as they meet the Bengaluru Topguns at home in Lucknow on Wednesday. The vociferous crowd support might also play a crucial role in lifting the spirits of the hosts.

Can the Kidambi Srikanth-led Topguns do anything to stop the charge of the Warriors? We find out:

Men’s singles: Tanongsak S (AW) vs Kidambi Srikanth (BG) (probable)

This is a very interesting match-up. The India No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth doesn’t particularly enjoy playing against Tanongsak S and their head-to-head meeting shows for it. The Indian and the Thai are tied at 2-2 overall and have split their two meetings this year.

That doesn’t give any clear advantage to either of the Awadhe Warriors or the Bengaluru Topguns. Having said that, one cannot deny that the Topguns’ star player Srikanth is finally showing flashes of brilliance after struggling through most of the last season. He reached the Indonesian Masters final in December and even toppled the former World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in his opening PBL match. That might just tilt this match in favour of the Bengaluru team if this contest goes the distance.

The Topguns might also want to select this particular contest for their ‘Trump Match’.

Women’s singles: Saina Nehwal (AW) vs Suo Di (BG) (probable)

With World No. 2 Saina Nehwal spearheading the challenge in women’s singles, there’s no doubt that the Awadhe Warriors will go for this one as their ‘Trump Match’. Saina decided to opt out of the Warriors’ opening game in order to make full recovery from niggling injuries. She did don her playing shoes in Awadhe’s second outing though and hardly showed any signs of discomfort. And that is a very good sign for the rest of the Warriors’ games.

Saina has met her opponent, Chinese Suo Di just once before – at the 2014 China Open – and she emerged the winner in it. However, Suo Di stretched Saina to a decider in that encounter and the Indian needs to be wary of that.

Men’s singles: Sai Praneeth (AW) vs Sameer Verma (BG) (probable)

This has the potential to become the match of the day. Two out of the three times that Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma have met, their matches have gone down to the wire. It is the 34th ranked Sai Praneeth who holds a 2-1 edge in this rivalry and have won both their encounters in 2015.

Praneeth has given a good account of himself so far at this PBL, having upset the higher-ranked Rajiv Ouseph and losing his other match in three games. If form holds up, the Awadhe player should come through.

Men’s doubles: Cai Yun/Bodin Issara (AW) vs Khim Wah Lim/Hoon Tien How (BG) (probable)

The men’s doubles contest can turn out to be a very competitive affair. The 29th ranked Cai Yun teamed up with the 35th ranked Hendra Gunawan in Awadhe’s opener against the Mumbai Rockets. But they failed to find success and the Warriors resorted to reshuffling their doubles teams in their very next encounter versus the Delhi Acers.

It paid rich dividends as Cai Yun and the 33rd ranked Bodin Issara secured a straight-game victory. It is expected that the same pair would be fielded against the Bangalore duo of Khim Wah Lim/Hoon Tien How. But the Warriors cannot take them lightly as they are a very seasoned duo and are ranked 32nd. It is highly probable that this contest would be decided in the third game.

Mixed doubles: Bodin Issara/Christinna Pedersen (AW) vs Joachim Nielsen/Ashwini Ponnappa (BG) (probable)

The beauty of the PBL is that it sets up some exciting meetings between regular partners on the Tour. There is a possibility of one such face-off in the mixed doubles contest as World No. 4 JF Nielsen and his usual partner Christinna Pedersen might be locking horns with each other.

Both the Danes have struck gold at the PBL with different partners. While Nielsen has thrived with India’s Ashwini Ponnappa, Pedersen too has soared with Thailand’s Bodin Issara. That makes this match hard to predict.

Could the extra home support propel the Warriors to a win? 

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