2016 Premier Badminton League: Saina vs Sindhu battle to light up Hyderabad
A mouthwatering double-header awaits Indian fans on the final day of the Hyderabad leg of the 2016 Premier Badminton League (PBL). The afternoon session will see the hosts facing the Mumbai Rockets in their bid to snap their losing streak.
It is, however, the evening session that will be the cynosure of all eyes. The Awadhe Warriors vs Chennai Smashers showdown will be highlighted by a much-awaited Saina Nehwal vs PV Sindhu clash that promises to be enthralling.
How will these two ties pan out? We have a look:
Hyderabad Hunters vs Mumbai Rockets
Men’s singles: Parupalli Kashyap (HH) vs HS Prannoy (MR) (probable)
It is expected that Hyderabad Hunters’ Lee Chong Wei would not be available after January 10. In his absence, Parupalli Kashyap has to don the shoes of the team’s leading singles player.
It thus sets up an exciting showdown between two of India’s marquee men’s singles shuttlers – Kashyap and HS Prannoy. The two are tied 1-1 in their head-to-head meetings. Their most recent face-off was in 2014 which the 23-year-old Mumbai player won with consummate ease.With Kashyap still struggling after his injury lay-off, there might be a repeat of that result from two years ago.
Women’s singles: Supanida K (HH) vs Li Han (MR) (probable)
Li Han of the Mumbai Rockets has put up encouraging performances at the PBL. Unfortunately both times she ended up on the losing side, despite taking a game off her opponent. She faces a young rival this time – 18-year-old Thai Supanida K of the Hyderabad Hunters.
Does it make her job easier? Apparently, it doesn’t as the Hyderabad player is arriving in this match after a fantastic show against the more accomplished PV Sindhu on Sunday. The teen took a game off the World No. 12 and would look to repeat her heroics the day after.
The outcome of this match is hard to predict and this has the potential to be a riveting battle.
Men’s singles: Siril Verma (HH) vs RMV Gurusaidutt (MR) (probable)
This is a clash of generations as an upcoming talent will lock horns with one of India’s top shuttlers. Siril Verma is the world’s best junior right now, having attained the pinnacle of the rankings just a few days back. The PBL will give the Junior World Championships runner-up a great opportunity to learn that will help him in the future.
But will that be enough to deliver the win to the hosts? Probably not as the Mumbai team’s Commonwealth Games bronze medallist RMV Gurusaidutt is a seasoned campaigner and wouldn’t like to give up this chance to put the Rockets ahead.
With the opponent being less experienced, the Rockets might feel confident of opting for this contest as their ‘Trump Match’.
Men’s doubles: Carsten Mogensen/Markis Kido (HH) vs Vladimir Ivanov/Mathias Boe (MR) (probable)
Regular tour partners will be squaring off against each other in this much-awaited men’s doubles showdown. Former World No. 1 players Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen – the reigning All England Open champions – will be on opposite sides.
Who has the advantage in this partners-turned-foes encounter? Mumbai’s Boe and Vladimir Ivanov have been in impeccable form so far. The Rockets might be languishing at the 5th place currently but their men’s doubles duo has never disappointed and has won all their three matches till date.
Hyderabad’s Mogensen and Markis Kido have been impressive too and have reigned supreme in two out of three ties. This can go either way as Boe and Mogensen know each other’s weaknesses very well and would be ready to capitalize on them.
But, based on their PBL record, the Rockets might just edge the home team in the end.
Mixed doubles: Markis Kido/Jwala Gutta (HH) vs Vladimir Ivanov/Kamilla Juhl (MR) (probable)
Markis Kido and Jwala Gutta have emerged victorious twice out of the three times they have played at this PBL. Kido was rested on Sunday and Gutta paired up with Mogensen but it did not go their way as they slumped to a straight-game defeat. It is very likely that the Hunters will return to their usual combination of Gutta and Kido as they try desperately to snap their losing streak.
The Hunters pair should be the favourite as Ivanov and Kamilla Juhl haven’t had desirable results so far and have lost both their matches. The hosts might also be inspired to call this their ‘Trump Match’.
Awadhe Warriors vs Chennai Smashers
Men’s singles: Tanongsak S (AW) vs Brice Leverdez (CS) (probable)
Just three places separate Awadhe Warriors’ Tanongsak S and Chennai Smashers’ Brice Leverdez. No wonder that this encounter between the 33rd ranked Tanongsak and the 36th Leverdez promises to be highly entertaining.
Out of the two, it is the Awadhe player who comes with more confidence, having won two out of his four PBL matches. What should favour him more against Leverdez, who has lost twice, is his 1-0 record over the Frenchman. Tanongsak defeated him this year at the Malaysia Open and would be keen to continue his mastery over the 29-year-old.
The Warriors might also go for this contest as their ‘Trump Match’.
Women’s singles: Saina Nehwal (AW) vs PV Sindhu (CS) (probable)
This is the highlight of the day and the match that the countless Indian badminton aficionados had been waiting for ever since the PBL started. The two have been the biggest stars of Indian badminton over the past few years and this meeting should be nothing less than a thriller.
They have crossed swords on the Tour only once – at the India Grand Prix Gold in 2014 – and Nehwal emerged the winner in it. Two years on, the 12th ranked Sindhu is currently in better shape and is coming on the back of winning the Macau Open for the third consecutive time. The 2nd ranked Saina, on the other hand, is dealing with a few niggling injuries.
Could that present the younger Indian a chink in Nehwal’s armour?
Men’s singles: Sai Praneeth (AW) vs Simon Santoso (CS) (probable)
For the young Sai Praneeth, this is a tough proposition. Even though Chennai Smashers’ Simon Santoso is currently placed 79 spots below Praneeth, the 30-year-old Indonesian’s rich experience can come in handy in high-pressure situations. To make matters even more difficult for the Indian, the former World No. 3 holds a 1-0 edge over the Awadhe player.
Having said that, the 23-year-old Indian has been quite impressive at the PBL and has won two matches for the Warriors. Can that inspire him to do something different against Santoso this time?
The Chennai team may also pick this one for their ‘Trump Match’.
Men’s doubles: Bodin Issara/Cai Yun (AW) vs Chris Adcock/Pranaav Jerry Chopra (CS) (probable)
Bodin Issara and Cai Yun of the Awadhe Warriors have been sensational at the PBL, winning all the three matches they have played together. Needless to say that their confidence is sky-high now and it would be quite a challenge to stop them.
That said, India’s Pranaav Chopra and his British partner Chris Adcock are veterans themselves and have won one match. They surely wouldn’t like to go away without a fight.
Mixed doubles: Bodin Issara/Christinna Pedersen (AW) vs Chris Adcock/Pia Zebadiah (CS) (probable)
Chennai look more certain to pocket the win in this one. Their mixed doubles pair of Chris Adcock and Pia Zebadiah has had stupendous success so far, winning all their three matches.
The Awadhe team has fielded many combinations in mixed doubles till now and Christinna Pedersen and Bodin Issara have won just one match together. It is thus fair to consider the Chennai duo the stronger of the two.
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