After three days of action in the Bengaluru leg of the 2017 Premier Badminton League (PBL), the fourth-placed Chennai Smashers will play their first home match in the same city on Tuesday. And they face the unbeaten Mumbai Rockets in what should be an enthralling tie.
But what should get the lion’s share of attention in this is undoubtedly the women’s singles clash between the World No. 3 Sung Ji Hyun of the Rockets and the World No. 6 PV Sindhu of the Smashers.
All eyes on Sindhu vs Sung Ji Hyun
It is an absolute must-watch marquee match of the day. The fact that they have met five times in the past one year makes this contest even more interesting. Sindhu won three of those meetings but the most recent one went in favour of the Korean at the Dubai World Superseries Finals last month.
With her effortless movement around the court and smart angles, Sung can be quite a tricky opponent for anyone. She is also a master of converting stubborn defence into ruthless attack that helped fell the Indian at the Superseries Finals in three games.
Out of the four matches that she has played at the PBL this year, she has triumphed in three with one of the wins coming over the Olympic champion Carolina Marin. She suffered her only defeat in the league so far at the hands of Saina Nehwal.
Sindhu has won two out of her three matches and her only loss was to Marin in the opening tie this year even though she did take a game off the Spaniard in that match.
The Rio Olympic silver medallist seems to be carrying on exactly in the way she ended her stellar 2016 season. The BWF ‘Most Improved Player’ award recipient has shown her usual flashes of brilliance and her sizzling attack to unsettle her opponents.
Having said that, facing Sung will be a different ball game altogether, especially because the Korean is in the form of her life. It goes without saying that the outcome of this particular match is pivotal for the final result.
Prannoy and Jayaram can make a difference
What has helped the 2016 runners-up is not just their star women’s singles player but also their stupendous performances in the men’s singles department. India No. 2 Ajay Jayaram and India No. 3 HS Prannoy have combined extremely well to deliver wins against far higher-ranked opponents.
Their fearlessness and confidence have proved to be a boon for the Rockets this season. World No. 2 Jan O Jorgensen, World No. 3 Viktor Axelsen, World No. 4 Son Wan Ho have all fallen to this unstoppable duo.
However, the Mumbai No. 1 Ajay Jayaram has a losing 0-3 record against the top two Chennai players, Tommy Sugiarto and Tanongsak S and that could be crucial if that trend holds up. It’s the second men’s singles match between Mumbai’s HS Prannoy and Chennai’s Parupalli Kashyap, the result of which could be a deciding factor. The two Indians are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head record and it is definitely hard to pick the winner.
After an experimental play in Chennai’s last tie, Gabrielle Adcock should return in mixed doubles alongside her regular partner Chris Adcock. That should make Chennai the favourite in that section.
The men’s doubles match presents a mouthwatering clash between Chennai’s Adcock and Mads Pieler Kolding and Mumbai’s Lee Yong Dae and Nipitphon Phuangphuapet. Even though both are coming off losses in their most recent PBL tie, they have both given enough glimpses of their talent previously.
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