In the final league match before the playoffs, the Bengaluru Raptors face former champions Chennai Smashers at the Premier Badminton League (PBL) 2018-19 in Bengaluru on Thursday. This is a great opportunity for the Raptors to move up to the third position since they trail Mumbai Rockets by just one point in the overall team standings.
The Chennai Smashers have had a glorious record of winning the second season of this pan-Indian competition but this season they could not get their act together. They are coming off a loss to the Awadhe Warriors while the Bengaluru franchise blanked the Mumbai Rockets in their last match.
The difference in the confidence level is what should help to turn the tide towards the Raptors today. They have the former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth in their squad and he has remained unbeaten so far in five matches. Srikanth has been a big reason why last season's runners-up have found so much success this season.
Sai Praneeth too has delivered when he was expected to. His snapping of the in-form Sameer Verma's winning streak in Bengaluru's last match was a commendable job. Sai and Srikanth would like to continue in the same vein when they take on Rajiv Ouseph and Parupalli Kashyap or Chong Wei Feng today.
The women's singles department is, however, Chennai's forte. With former World No. 2 Sung Ji Hyun, they should be the favourites against the Raptors' 59th ranked Vu Thi Trang. Sung has been invincible so far at the PBL 2018-19 and that should be a cause of concern for the home team.
Again, the men's doubles section is where Bengaluru should have the upper hand. Former world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan have looked very good so far and would want to bring home another win for their team.
Chennai should have the edge in mixed doubles, however. The World No. 9 pair of Chris and Gabby Adcock has had mixed fortunes so far this season but the way they came back from multiple match points down in their last match, they should be hungry to keep their winning run going. Against the struggling Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith of Bengaluru, whom the Adcocks beat to take the Commonwealth Games gold last year, the Chennai pair should be considered the favourites.
Here’s all the information you need to know about the PBL encounter:
Tournament name: Premier Badminton League Season 4
Venue: Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, Bengaluru
Date: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Time: 7 pm IST
Head-to-head: Chennai lead 3-0
Channel: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD
Live streaming: hotstar.com