2016 Premier Badminton League: Can Hyderabad turn around their fortunes at home?
Two teams with contrasting fortunes will be clashing on Saturday at the Premier Badminton League (PBL) as Hyderabad Hunters host the Awadhe Warriors. The Saina Nehwal-led Warriors are currently occupying the second spot in the Team Standings after a spectacular display against the Bengaluru Topguns.
The Hyderabad Hunters, on the other hand, will play their first home match after being upended by the Delhi Acers in their most recent tie. Due to the loss, the Hunters are now languishing at the bottom of the table.
Can they find fortune at home or will Saina’s team prove too strong? We find out:
Hyderabad Hunters vs Awadhe Warriors
Men’s singles: Lee Chong Wei (HH) vs Tanongsak S (AW) (probable)
Despite his star status and his very best efforts, the former World No. 1 Malaysian Lee Chong Wei ended up as the vanquished in his last match against the Delhi Acers’ Tommy Sugiarto. It was an incredible result as Sugiarto had lost all his 13 meetings on the Tour with the two-time Olympic silver medallist.
Lee squares off against another such player on Saturday – Tanongsak S of the Awadhe Warriors – who has a 0-9 losing record. Being the fast learner that he is, Lee wouldn’t let another opportunity slip by.
This is a scary proposition for the 33rd ranked Thai shuttler as he has never even managed a game off the 33-year-old. To add to that, Lee will also have the backing of the entire arena at Hyderabad.
Surely, this particular contest tilts heavily towards the Hunters and the team would look to make full use of it by making it their ‘Trump Match’.
Men’s singles: Parupalli Kashyap (HH) vs Sai Praneeth (AW) (probable)
It is interesting to note that the two established Indian men’s singles players – Parupalli Kashyap and Sai Praneeth – have never met each other professionally. There will thus be a lot of excitement surrounding this men’s singles encounter.
The Awadhe shuttler Sai Praneeth has been moving up the ranks very fast and is currently ranked 34th. The 23-year-old had an impressive upset victory over Delhi Acers’ Rajiv Ouseph but somehow, ran out of steam against his compatriot, Sameer Verma in his last match. He will be eager to bounce back against the Hunters.
With the 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap still trying to find his feet on the court after an injury lay-off, this might present a window of opportunity to Sai Praneeth.
Women’s singles: Supanida K (HH) vs Saina Nehwal (AW) (probable)
This is a classic clash of youth versus experience. The visitors will be banking upon the World No. 2 Saina Nehwal to pull them through in women’s singles against the 18-year-old Supanida K of the Hunters. Surely, it is tough to bet against someone as accomplished as the World Championships silver medalist.
No matter how easy it apparently looks for the 25-year-old, Nehwal still has to remain cautious. The Awadhe player lost a game in her last match against the Bengaluru Topguns’ Suo Di and she is also yet to regain her full fitness. Nehwal definitely would not prefer a long match once again.
There is a high probability of the Warriors selecting this particular contest as their ‘Trump Match’. It will also be an interesting scenario for the crowd as they will have to cheer against the local girl, Nehwal who will be donning the Warriors’ jersey.
Men’s doubles: Carsten Mogensen/Markis Kido (HH) vs Bodin Issara/Cai Yun (AW) (probable)
After being rested in the Hyderabad Hunters’ last tie, the pair of Carsten Mogensen and Markis Kido will be raring to go in front of their home fans. The pair comprising two former World No. 1s, won the men’s doubles match in the Hunters’ opening PBL tie in a thrilling fashion. They would love to go for an encore of that performance on Saturday.
However, they will be up against a pair who is now high on confidence. The Chinese-Thai combine of Cai Yun and Bodin Issara have clicked perfectly and are unbeaten so far. This can turn out to be a very highly competitive affair and it would be quite logical to expect the extra bit of home support to help the Hunters through.
Mixed doubles: Markis Kido/Jwala Gutta (HH) vs Bodin Issara/ Christina Pedersen (AW) (probable)
After a break, the pair of Bodin Issara and Christina Pendersen will be back for this tie. They represented the Warriors in their opening match and won that dramatic encounter against the Mumbai Rockets.
However, the home team of Markis Kido and Jwala Gutta too found success in their most recent match and would be keen to build on it further. That makes this tie quite intriguing. Needless to say, both the pair’s mental toughness will be put to severe test in this contest.
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