Hyderabad Hunters vs Chennai Smashers preview: Tall order for the home team
If the Hyderabad Hunters were hoping that playing at home would bring them luck, they were in for a rude shock as a Saina Nehwal-less Awadhe Warriors edged past them for a 4-3 win at the Gachibowli indoor Stadium on Saturday. The Hunters, however, have a chance for redemption very soon as they face the Chennai Smashers on Sunday at the same venue.
Can they finally click as a team and haul themselves up from the bottom place in the Team Standings?
We find out:
Men’s singles: Lee Chong Wei (HH) vs Brice Leverdez (CS) (probable)
Nobody likes to face an in-form Lee Chong Wei. After surprisingly being on the losing side twice at this PBL, the former World No. 1 Malaysian has finally announced his arrival at this pan-India league with a thunderous performance against the Awadhe Warriors’ Tanongsak S.
That should be a much welcome news for the hosts and a scary proposition for any of Lee’s rivals. Against the 36th ranked Brice Leverdez, Lee has an imposing 6-0 head-to-head record and the last time ever that the Frenchman took a game off him was six years back in 2010.
That doesn’t give much hope to the Chennai Smashers in this contest. The Hunters would have loved to go for this one as their ‘Trump Match’ but they have already exhausted Lee Chong Wei’s quota of a maximum of two Trump Matches.
Women’s singles: Supanida K (HH) vs PV Sindhu (CS) (probable)
With the double World Championships bronze medallist PV Sindhu spearheading the women’s singles challenge for the Smashers, there is no doubt as to who is the unanimous favourite to win this match.
For the 18-year-old Supanida K of the Hyderabad Hunters, the PBL is a very good place to learn and mingle with the top players. The fast-learning Thai girl will be eager to bounce back after her defeat at the hands of the Awadhe Warriors player, G Vrushali. But against the Macau Open champion Sindhu, who is unbeaten so far at the PBL, it is a bridge too far for the youngster.
The visitors would also like to use the safest option of going for Sindhu’s match as their ‘Trump Match’.
Men’s singles: Parupalli Kashyap (HH) vs Simon Santoso (CS) (probable)
From Hyderabad’s point of view, this is tough. Indonesian World No. 113 Simon Santoso might be currently placed 98 spots below the 15th ranked Parupalli Kashyap, but the 30-year-old always gives Kashyap a hard time which is evidenced by his 4-0 record over the Indian.
Even worse is that Kashyap never even managed to take a game off the Indonesian, who was ranked 3rd once upon a time. Santoso is definitely not the kind of player Kashyap would like to face when he is returning from an injury-induced hiatus and trying to find his feet on the court again.This match tilts heavily in favour of the Chennai team.
Men’s doubles: Markis Kido/Carsten Mogensen (HH) vs Pranaav Chopra/Chris Adcock (CS) (probable)
The Hunters’ Markis Kido and Carsten Mogensen – both former men’s doubles World No. 1s – will be eager to rebound after a setback at home in front of their fans. The Danish-Indonesian pairing, after all, does know how to win at the PBL as they have done it in the Hunters’ opening tie.
It will not be a smooth sailing for them, though, as they face quality opponents in Pranaav Chopra and Chris Adcock. The Indo-British duo has won one match and lost the other so far and they would give the Hunters pair a run for their money in this contest.
Mixed doubles: Markis Kido/Jwala Gutta (HH) vs Chris Adcock/Pia Zebadiah (CS) (probable)
Chris Adcock and Pia Zebadiah have been complementing each other perfectly at this tournament and their flawless record shows for it. They have won two out of two matches and will be aiming to extend their winning run even further.
However, much to the joy of the home team, their mixed doubles duo of Markis Kido and Jwala Gutta won a thrilling encounter on Saturday. That would give them the much-needed impetus to compete well against such a formidable pair.
Can Kido and Gutta’s strong performance on Saturday give the Hunters the courage to go for this match as their ‘Trump Match’?
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