The first semi-final of the opening season of Indian Badminton League will see Hyderabad Hotshots take on Pune Pistons.
Hyderabad Hotshots, who many see as the title favourites, top the table despite losing to Banga Beats in their final league game, as they managed to collect two points against the team from Bangalore. They will now be keen to prove the tag of being favorites right by reaching the finals.
On the other hand, Pune, after an impressive start have slowed down in the last few matches. But they just about managed to squeeze through to the semis.
For the hosts Hyderabad, form of Tanongsak, who is undefeated in the last five matches, is the biggest plus. Hotshots will depend on the Thai to give them the ideal start.
Saina has also gone unbeaten in the league, but she is up against the German shuttler Juliane Schenk, who will be eager to make amends for the loss in the previous round, which will add extra spice to this marquee match.
One area where Hyderabad have a distinct advantage is on the doubles front. Their doubles combination of Shem Goh/Wah Lim is formidable enough for any team, whereas Pistons still do not have a settled men’s doubles combination.
The mixed doubles pair of Goh/Pradnya has had a decent tournament so far, but up against the experienced pair of Ashwini/Fischer, they might have a hard time.
Tien Minh Nguyen registered an impressive win in his last game and the Pistons will hope that he continues his form. In women’s singles, Juliane Schenk has been the most reliable player for the Pistons and the franchisee will bank heavily on her.
Meanwhile, the mixed doubles pairing of Ashwini/Fischer are tipped to win against their inexperienced opponents in the form of Goh/Prandya.
Hyderabad Hotshots Squad: Saina Nehwal (India), Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia), Ajay Jayaram (India), V Shem Goh (Malaysia), Tarun Kona (India), Pradnya Gadre (India), Khim Wah Lim (Malaysia), Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Thailand), Kanthi Visalakshi (India), Subhankar Dey (India)
Form Guide: Tie – Win: 3, Loss: 2 / Matches – Win: 14, Loss: 11
Pune Pistons Squad: Juliane Schenk (Germany), Ashwini Ponnappa (India), Tien Minh Nguyen (Vietnam), Wee Kiong Tan (Malaysia), Joachim Fischer Nielsen (Denmark), Sourabh Varma (India), Anup Sridhar (India), Sanave Thomas (India), Arun Vishnu (India), Rupesh Kumar (India)
Form Guide: Tie – Win: 3, Loss: 2 / Matches – Win: 13, Loss: 12