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2016 Premier Badminton League: Mumbai vs Delhi clash promises to be a thriller

959   //    13 Jan 2016, 11:41 IST
Ajay Jayaram in action during the Premier Badminton League

After ten days of action, we have finally arrived on the last day of the league matches at the Premier Badminton League (PBL). It is a crucial day as it will decide the fate of the four teams who are scheduled to play at Bengaluru.

The day’s afternoon session will witness a mouthwatering tie between the Mumbai Rockets and the Delhi Acers and in the evening, the Chennai Smashers and the Bengaluru Topguns will be clashing. While 

Delhi have sealed their place in the last-four stage, Mumbai and Chennai are very close to reaching the semis.

How will the ties unfold? We find out:

Mumbai Rockets vs Delhi Acers

Men’s singles: HS Prannoy (MR) vs Tommy Sugiarto (DA) (probable)

Odds should be heavily in favour of the Acers in this contest. Tommy Sugiarto has been in sensational form at the PBl. The World No. 11 has had three wins and even accounted for the former top-ranked Lee Chong Wei.

On the other hand, the 20th ranked HS Prannoy is lacking in consistency at the moment. He definitely has the big game and the guts to beat a player of Sugiarto’s stature. But their present results suggest that Prannoy might find it tough to overcome the Indonesian Masters champion Sugiarto who is brimming with self-belief.

There’s every chance that the Delhi team would like to call this one as their ‘Trump Match’. 

Women’s singles: Han Li (MR) vs PC Thulasi (DA) (probable)

The advantage lies with the Mumbai brigade, even though not by much. Li Han might not be having any victory against her name at the PBL so far but she has been a superb fighter. Both her losses came in three games one of which was against the in-form World No. 12 PV Sindhu.

That gives enough reason to believe that she would give the struggling PC Thulasi a hard time and the Rockets might feel it safe to select this one as their ‘Trump Match’.

Men’s singles: RMV Gurusaidutt (MR) vs Ajay Jayaram (DA) (probable)

This should be an intriguing match-up. These two top Indian shuttlers haven’t met since 2013 and it is the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist RMV Gurusaidutt who holds a 3-1 edge over the Acers’ Ajay Jayaram.

Gurusaidutt, however, is the lower-ranked player now, being placed 26 spots below the World No. 21 Jayaram. It is thus quite understandable that it is the 28-year-old Delhi player who is presently the one with the bigger performances at the elite tournaments. 

Could that propel him to score a victory over his nemesis or will the head-to-head record have the final word?

Men’s doubles: Mathias Boe/Vladimir Ivanov (MR) vs Koo Keat Kien/Tan Boon Heong (DA) (probable)

Mathias Boe and Vladimir Ivanov have been the pair to watch at the 2016 PBL. Their partnership has clicked right from the word go and the pair has had stupendous success so far, having grabbed three wins.

It is no doubt then that facing them is a challenging affair for any rival team. Having said that, the Delhi combine of Koo Keat Kien/Tan Boon Heong has reigned supreme twice and would not bow out without a fight.

Mixed doubles: Vladimir Ivanov/Kamilla Juhl (MR) vs Koo Keat Kien/Gabrielle Adcock (DA) (probable)

Two of the finest female mixed doubles players will be crossing swords in this showdown where it is difficult to pick a winner. Naturally, this face-off has all the ingredients to be an epic three-game battle.

Both the teams prevailed in their most recent matches and are arriving with a great amount of confidence. It will all boil down to who can hold their nerves till the end.

Bengaluru Topguns vs Chennai Smashers: Will the hosts scale an uphill mountain?

Men’s singles: Kidambi Srikanth (BG) vs Brice Leverdez (CS) (probable)

World No. 9 Kidambi Srikanth started the 2016 PBL on a high, registering two consecutive wins one of which was a huge upset victory over the former World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei. However, the 22-year-old somewhat lost the steam after that and suffered two straight defeats.

His next opponent – Brice Leverdez – is someone he has never met on the Tour and he is ranked 27 places below the Indian. With the Topguns’ semi-final chances looking very slim, can Srikanth come alive in what could be the Bengaluru franchise’s last PBL match?

The hosts would surely be looking upto their star player to lead from the front and can select this one their ‘Trump Match’.

Women’s singles: Suo Di (BG) vs PV Sindhu (CS) (probable)

With a difference of 213 places in the world rankings, there’s no doubt as to who is the unanimous favourite to emerge the winner in this encounter. The double World Championships bronze medallist PV Sindhu has been an inspiring captain for her team, who has registered a flawless four wins out of four showdowns.

Having said that, Sindhu cannot take her rival Suo Di easily. The Chinese has exhibited some tremendous fighting spirit and has pocketed three wins. Not only that, she also managed to take a game off the World No. 2 Saina Nehwal. Certainly, that should be enough reason for Sindhu to be on the alert.

Men’s singles: Sameer Verma (BG) vs Simon Santoso (CS) (probable)

Chennai should have the upper hand in this one. Simon Santoso is a former World No. 3 and has been in decent form at the PBL. He is coming on the back of two wins out of three matches and has an imposing 2-0 career head-to-head record over the 21-year-old Indian.

Santoso would definitely look to translate that confidence into success against the young Verma and put Chennai in command in this tie. Chennai can also opt for this match as their ‘Trump Match’. 

 Men’s doubles: Khim Wah Lim/Hoon Thien How (BG) vs Pranaav Chopra/Chris Adcock (CS) (probable)

Both the teams come into this contest after losing their last matches. Each of these pairs has had mixed fortunes at the PBL which is why it is difficult to pick an outright winner.Chris Adcock of the Chennai Smashers was rested ahead of this vital tie and would be raring to go in this one. Could his presence make a difference to the visitors or will the vociferous home support see the Topguns through?

Mixed doubles: Ashwini Ponnappa/Khim Wah Lim (BG) vs Chris Adcock/Pia Zebadiah (CS) (probable)

The Chennai pair has the edge in this contest. Chris Adcock came into the PBL straight from capturing the prestigious Dubai World Superseries Finals title and has been excellent in mixed doubles so far. 

Alongside the 37th ranked Pia Zebadiah of Indonesia, the English star has flourished, winning three out of four matches.

They were however stopped in their most recent encounter against the Awadhe Warriors and would thus be desperate to get back to winning ways. Their task perhaps gets easier as they face the inconsistent Bengaluru pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Khim Wah Lim who has one win and one defeat till now.

Moreover, the Topguns have been reshuffling their mixed doubles team frequently and it might not help them against such a steady pair of Adcock and Zebadiah.

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.

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