In order to defend their Premier Badminton League (PBL) title, the Delhi Acers needed a squad capable of competing with the very best in the world and they have got exactly that ahead of the 2017 edition. On paper, it might not look the strongest in every department but there’s no denying that each member is a quality player and has the talent to take on the established stars of the game.
Their men’s singles line-up especially is one that can give headaches to any of Acers’ opponents. They have two of the world’s top 5 players – No. 2 Jan O Jorgensen and No. 4 Son Wan Ho. Both of them are coming off a very strong 2016 having reached their career-best rankings at the end of the season.
For the 28-year-old Dane Jorgensen, it has been yet another consistent season even though he managed to win just one title and that too, a big one – the China Open Superseries Premier. Besides that, he made it to the finals of two other Superseries events where he lost to the World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in three games.
Korean No. 1 Son Wan Ho too put up a dazzling show at the Dubai World Superseries Finals where he even upset Lee Chong Wei. His only title of 2016 came at home at the Korea Masters and he also made it to the finals of the Singapore Open, the Korea Open and Denmark Open.
The fast-rising Siril Verma is the third player in this section. The 2015 Junior World Championships silver medallist has already started asserting himself at the top level and finished second best at the Russian Open this year. He can be one handy player should they need his services.
The singles challenge is led by the World No. 17 Nitchaon Jindapol. The Thai, who has career wins over Carolina Marin and PV Sindhu, surged to the Bitburger Open final towards the end of the season. If she can bring that form into the PBL-2, she can definitely cause a few upsets.
The addition of the World No. 9 men’s doubles pair of Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov has bolstered the team’s chances in doubles beyond any doubt. Ivanov was with the Mumbai Rockets in the past season and he played a crucial role in helping the team reach the final. His familiarity with the format is an added bonus for the Delhi franchise.
The powerhouse of Indian doubles, Jwala Gutta too is there. The 33-year-old has recently split with her long-time women’s doubles partner, Ashwini Ponnappa as she aims to switch back to mixed doubles once more. The former World Championships bronze medallist’s presence and valuable experience can also boost the confidence of young K Maneesha.
Career highlights of Team Delhi Acers members:
Jan O Jorgensen (WR 2 in men’s singles, Denmark) – 2016 China Open, 2015 German Open, 2014 Indonesia Open, 2014 European Championships, 2013 French Open, 2010 Denmark Open, 2009 Bitburger Open
Son Wan Ho (WR 4 in men’s singles, Korea) – 2016 Korea Masters, 2014 Hong Kong Open, 2012 India Open, 2013 Vietnam Open, 2013 Macau Open, 2013 Chinese Taipei Open
Siril Verma (WR 111 in men’s singles, India) – 2016 Russian Open silver medal, 2015 World Junior Championships silver medal
Nitchaon Jindapol (WR 17 in women’s singles, Thailand) – 2013 Bitburger Open, 2013 Canada Open
Aakarshi Kashyap (WR 470 in women’s singles, India) – 2016 Asian U17 Junior Championships bronze medallist, U17 national champion
Jwala Gutta (WR 25 in women’s doubles, India) – Commonwealth Games – 2010 gold and 2014 silver, 2011 World Championships bronze, 2016 South Asian Games gold, 2014 Asian Championships bronze, 2015 Canada Open in women’s doubles
Vladimir Ivanov (WR 9 in men’s doubles, Russia) – 2016 All England Championships, 2014 European Championships gold, 2015 European Games silver, 6 titles at the Russian Open Grand Prix Gold in men’s doubles
Ivan Sozonov (WR 9 in men’s doubles, Russia) – 2016 All England Championships, 2014 European Championships gold, 2015 European Games silver, 6 titles at the Russian Open Grand Prix Gold in men’s doubles
Akshay Dewalkar (WR 47 in men’s doubles, India) – 2016 and 2009 Syed Modi International silver medal, 2016 Norwegian International silver medal
Maneesha K (WR 72 in mixed doubles, India) – 2016 Bangladesh International, 2016 Mauritius International, 2016 India International Series, 2015 Tata India International, 2013 Maldives International in mixed doublesPublished 26 Dec 2016, 17:28 IST