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PBL 2017: Here's everything you need to know about the 3rd season of Premier Badminton League

Sagnik Kundu
FEATURED COLUMNIST
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1.55K   //    21 Dec 2016, 21:15 IST
PBL kicks off on 1st January, 2017. (Credits: PBL Website)

After a very successful second season of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) at the beginning of this year, Season 3 is set to return right at the start of next year.

The PBL, of course, started with a different name, viz. the Indian Badminton League (IBL) in August 2013, run by the Badminton Association of India. However, the league battled issues despite being moderately successful. The problems, though, were soon brushed aside as the league returned under the new name in January, 2016. The second edition was a huge success and riding on the back of it the next season is set to kick off the New Year with a bang.

The league will feature six teams, like the last season, viz. Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Blasters, Chennai Smashers, Delhi Acers, Hyderabad Hunters and Mumbai Rockets. While the 2013 edition was won by the Hyderabad outfit, the Delhi Acers lifted the title in the second season.

Top players from Asia and Europe will take part in the league which is scheduled to be held from 1st January, 2017 to 14th January, 2017. The two semi-finals will be played on 13th January in Delhi while the final will be played on 14th January at the same venue.

The auction in November saw plenty of churn as PV Sindhu, who won the silver medal at the Rio Olympics,  was retained by the Chennai Smashers for a fee of Rs 39 lakhs.

Saina Nehwal was retained by her side Awadhe Warriors

Saina Nehwal, on the other hand, went unsold in the first round of the auction and was retained by her former franchise Awadhe Warriors for the base price of Rs 33 lakhs.

Olympic gold medallist, Carolina Marin, was the star at the auction as she went for the highest fee of Rs 61.5 lakhs to the Hyderabad Hunters. Kidambi Srikanth fetched the highest amount by an Indian when he was bought by the Awadhe Warriors for Rs 51 lakhs.

Other than the aforementioned shuttlers, there will be a bevy of top shuttlers like Jan O Jorgensen, and Sung Ji Hyun on display in the league. Young Indian shuttlers like Siril Verma, Sourabh Verma, Ajay Jayaram, B Sai Praneeth, Sameer Verma will go shoulder to shoulder with the top players from around the world.

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The new format of the league also promises to be exciting. In the previous edition, each of the best of three games was played for 15 points, this time a much-shortened version will be on display. Each of the games will be fought over only 11 points, thus effectively making the game more thrilling.

A few days ago, Sindhu expressed her views of the new format: “The shorter format of the game will mean that you can’t give away leads of four or five points. It will be very difficult to come back into a game then.”

Carolina Marin too sounded excited about the new format and said, “It is going to be a very tough format. As each game is only for 11 points, we will have to focus on each point. And, this will surely change everyone’s strategies and the way they approach the game.”

The tournament is seen as a stage for preparation by the top shuttlers before the start of the new season. Even so, it promises to be highly contested with the league kicking off with the high-profile match between Chennai’s Sindhu and Hyderabad’s Marin.

PV Sindhu and Carolina Marin will feature in the opening fixture of this season

The two had faced each other at the Rio Olympics final with the Spaniard triumphing over the Indian. Sindhu, however, had her revenge when she knocked the Spaniard out of the season-ending Dubai Masters Superseries earlier in the month. The organisers have pulled out a real trick out of their bag by featuring the two in the opening fixture which will bring a lot of eyeballs on the tournament.

While the Hyderabad Hunters begin as firm favourites on paper, one cannot rule out the Mumbai Rockets and the Awadhe Warrior. Even defending champions Delhi Acers have put together a strong team, while Sindhu’s Chennai Smashers also packs a punch with their star-studded team. The Bengaluru Blasters, who have cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar as one of their co-owners, are also a team to watch out for.

Badminton is one of the popular sports behind cricket in the country in terms of popularity and many youngsters are taking up the sport as a career option. The opportunity to train, play and witness some of the top players in the world in action from up close could prove to be a big boost for the future of the sport in India.

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for some high-octane badminton action over the first two weeks of 2017.

Here are the squads of each franchise.

Awadhe Warriors: Srikanth Kidambi (India), Wong Wing Ki Vincent (Hong Kong), Aditya Joshi (India), Rituparna Das (India), Saina Nehwal (India), Bodin Isara (Thailand), Goh Wei Shem (Malaysia), Markis Kido (Indonesia), Savitree Amitrapali (Thailand) and Prajakta Sawant (India)

Bengaluru Blasters: Viktor Axelsen (Denmark), Boonsak Ponsana (Thailand), Sourabh Verma (India), Gadde Ruthvika Shivani (India), Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (Thailand), Yoo Yeon Seong (South Korea), Pranaav Jerry Chopra (India), Ko Sung Hyun (South Korea), Ashwini Ponnappa (India), Sikki Reddy (India)

Chennai Smashers: Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Thailand), Tommy Sugiarto (Indonesia), Parupalli Kashyap (India), Arundhati Pantawane (India), PV Sindhu (India), Chris Adcock (England), Mads Pieler Kolding (Denmark), Sumeeth Reddy (India), Ramya Tulasi (India) and Gabrielle Adcock (England)

Delhi Acers: Jan Jorgensen (Denmark), Son Wan Ho (South Korea), Vladimir Ivanov (Russia), Siril Verma (India), Aakarshi Kashyap (India), Nitchaon Jindapol (Malaysia), Ivan Sozonov (Russia), Akshay Dewalkar (India), Jwala Gutta (India), Maneesha Kukkapalli (India)

Hyderabad Hunters: Rajiv Ouseph (India), Sai Praneeth (India), Sameer Verma (India), Carolina Marin (Spain), Krishna Priya (India), Tan Boon Heong (Malaysia), Wee Kiong Tan (Malaysia), Satwik Sairaj (India), Meghna Jakkampudi (Indonesia) and Cahu Hoi Wah (China)

Mumbai Rockets: Ajay Jayaram (India), HS Prannoy (India), Shreyansh Jaiswal (India), Vrushali Gummadi (India), Sung Ji Hyun (South Korea), Lee Yong Dee (South Korea), Nipithphon Phusnhphupet (Thailand), Mohita Sahdev (India) and Nadiezda Zieba (Poland)

Here is the complete schedule as announced by the Badminton Association of India.

Complete schedule:

Jan 1: Hyderabad vs Chennai; Bangalore vs Delhi at Hyderabad

Jan 2: Lucknow vs Hyderabad at Hyderabad

Jan 3: Bangalore vs Chennai; Delhi vs Mumbai at Mumbai

Jan 4: Hyderabad vs Mumbai at Mumbai

Jan 5: Lucknow vs Delhi at Lucknow

Jan 6: Lucknow vs Mumbai at Lucknow

Jan 7: Bangalore vs Hyderabad at Bangalore

Jan 8: Delhi vs Chennai; Bangalore vs Mumbai at Bangalore

Jan 9: Lucknow vs Bangalore at Bangalore

Jan 10: Mumbai vs Chennai at Chennai

Jan 11: Lucknow vs Chennai at Chennai

Jan 12: Delhi vs Hyderabad at Delhi

Jan 13: Semifinals at Delhi

Jan 14: Final at Delhi.

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