Ever since the schedule of the 2017 Premier Badminton League (PBL-2) was announced, all badminton fans were looking forward to the 11th of January when the Awadhe Warriors meet the Chennai Smashers at Bengaluru. With Saina Nehwal being the face of the Warriors and PV Sindhu leading the Chennai Smashers, there’s every chance of a much-awaited clash between the country’s top two shuttle queens.
Both the teams have qualified for the semi-finals for the second season in a row and have looked pretty strong in this edition. There’s no doubt that this tie will be a very engrossing affair.
Will the much-awaited Saina vs Sindhu face-off happen today?
But it’s that one women’s singles match which will get the lion’s share of attention from badminton aficionados all over the world provided both of them play. There is a possibility that they might even opt out since their teams have already grabbed the last-four berth.
Nevertheless, for the sake of popularity of the league, we hope that both will be appearing for their respective teams.
The two have met just once in international competition at the 2014 Syed Modi International with the elder countrywoman winning it in straight games.
In the intervening period, badminton has reached stratospheric heights in India. Saina climbed to the pinnacle of the world rankings in 2015 while Sindhu doubled the popularity by clinching the much-coveted Rio Olympic silver medal this year.
However, circumstances are different now. Saina underwent a knee surgery and resumed competitive play only in November. She has herself admitted that she will still need around a couple more months to regain her full fitness. In contrast, the younger Indian is at the peak of her career, having added the China Open title to her Olympic medal.
She has carried on that stupendous form to this pan-Indian league as well and has lost just one match to the Olympic champion Carolina Marin. On Tuesday, she put up a brilliant performance to get the better of the World No. 3 Sung Ji Hyun.
Saina, too, has thoroughly established that she is very much on her way back to the top. There have been occasional struggles but there has never been any question of her hunger or desire to win.
She too lost to Marin and even though she did drop a couple of games in other matches, she was able to find her fighting spirit to eke out a victory. One of those came over the aforementioned Sung where Saina showed so much of her usual sparks.
It is guaranteed that if Saina and Sindhu really meet today, it will be nothing short of a classic.
Srikanth to lead the men’s singles challenge for the Warriors
In men’s singles, Srikanth Kidambi vs Tommy Sugiarto will be a very interesting contest. The Indonesian leads the head-to-head 3-2 and lost their most recent meeting at the Asia Team Championships in February last year. Both have sizzled through the PBL-2 and it is hard to pick a winner. The outcome of this match will go a long way in deciding the final result.
In the second men’s singles match, the Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap will take on the World No. 17 Vincent Wong Wing Ki. The 30-year-old too is on the comeback trail from knee surgery and is gaining in confidence with every match. He has a 1-0 record over the Hong Kong shuttler and is capable of upsetting the Warriors ace.
In the doubles section, the one match that will be crucial for the fortunes of either team is the mixed doubles one. Two extremely strong pairs both of which are ranked in the world’s top 10 will be locking horns.
World No. 8 Chennai duo of Chris and Gaby Adcock will face the 10th ranked Awadhe pair of Bodin Isara and Savitree Amitrapai. This is definitely one match that can make all the difference.
When and where to watch:
Time: 7 pm ISTChannel: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports 3 HDStreaming: Star Sports Hotstar