After a 3-4 loss to Hyderabad Hunters in a humdinger at the 2017 Premier Badminton League (PBL-2) at home on Saturday, the hosts Bengaluru Blasters would definitely want to face an easier opponent. Unfortunately for the home team, they have a tough task up next as they meet the formidable Mumbai Rockets in Sunday’s second match.
The 2016 runners-up are currently unbeaten in the 2017 edition having triumphed in all three of their matches so far.
However, all is not lost for the Blasters. They did show some flashes of brilliance on Saturday where the doubles ace Ashwini Ponnappa stretched the Olympic champion Carolina Marin in a thrilling women’s singles match. With the vociferous home support, the currently fifth-placed Bengaluru might even turn this around.
Do they have any chance of making it happen?
The Rockets are endowed with the World No. 3 Sung Ji Hyun, who has come to India after reaching the final of the World Superseries Finals last month. In contrast, Bengaluru’s highest-ranked women’s singles player is the World No. 19 Cheung Ngan Yi. That obviously makes the visitors the favourites to win this particular match.
The Blasters, on the other hand, can boast of the Olympic bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen in men’s singles. The young Dane showed some impeccable form yesterday when he took on the Hyderabad Hunters’ B Sai Praneeth, whom he thrashed in straight games.
At the same time, it needs to be remembered that Mumbai’s Ajay Jayaram and HS Prannoy have been giant-killers. They combined to upset both the World No. 2 Jan O Jorgensen and the World No. 4 Son Wan Ho of the Delhi Acers in their opening match. In their last match too, the two Indian stars beat higher-ranked Srikanth Kidambi and Vincent Wong Wing Ki.
Even if Axelsen gets one win for the hosts, it is likely the Rockets will get the other.
In mixed doubles, it is Bengaluru who has the edge. Korea’s World No. 2 Ko Sung Hyun and India’s N Sikki Reddy have teamed up very well and are yet to lose in PBL-2. With the confidence they exhibited against the Hunters on Saturday, it won’t be wrong to expect them to post their third victory on the trot.
It is the men’s doubles match where things can become interesting. Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong were on the verge of victory against the Hunters yesterday from where they went down in three enthralling games.
Can they redeem themselves today? It certainly won’t be easy as the Mumbai pair of Lee Yong Dae and Nipitphon Phuangphuapet is unbeaten so far and would be a difficult team to overcome.
When and where to watch:
Time: 9 pm IST
Channel: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports 3 HD
Streaming: Star Sports Hotstar