PBL 2018: All you need to know about Awadhe Warriors
With a new-look squad, the Awadhe Warriors will aim to win the Premier Badminton League title for the first time in the upcoming edition. They had to let go of their icon player Saina Nehwal to rivals North Eastern Warriors, but they have managed to acquire the services of World No. 10 Beiwen Zhang.
Filling Saina's shoes might be a tough ask, but the American too is coming to the league after some consistent performances throughout the season. She won the India Open and reached a couple of finals, ultimately getting a chance to play at the BWF World Tour Finals.
She even notched up two wins over none other than PV Sindhu this year and that makes her a dangerous opponent for the World No. 3.
The men's singles department also looks very strong. Former World No. 1 Son Wan Ho has had a resurgent season, winning the Hong Kong Open and the Korea Masters. It put him back among the elite and he also made it to the semi-finals of the BWF World Tour Finals. With such a confidence-boosting finish to the season, it won't be unrealistic to expect some fireworks from the Korean at the PBL.
World No. 27 Lee Dong Keun is also an extremely competent No. 2 player with a title triumph at the US Open and a semi-final finish at the Japan Open.
2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist RMV Gurusaidutt is the third men's singles exponent in the squad and can be pretty useful when others are rested.
Ashwini Ponnappa is the biggest Indian name in the Awadhe Warriors squad this time around. The former World Championships women's doubles bronze medallist has impressed one and all, even in her singles outings in the earlier editions of the PBL.
It's thus no wonder that in doubles she will be looking to go out all guns blazing, especially because the squad is brimming with some exceptional doubles talent.
Ashwini can always bank on the likes of trusted campaigners -- World No. 8 Mathias Christiansen or the 17th-ranked Yang Lee -- for support.
The Dane is the reigning mixed doubles champion at the India Open and is certainly acquainted with the pressure of playing in front of a roaring Indian crowd.
Since Lee Yang is adept at both men's and mixed doubles, it is a huge advantage having the Chinese Taipei ace in the squad. He doesn't have any title to show for in his resume in the season of 2018 but he has managed to consistently reach the latter stages of nearly every tournament that he has participated in. His valuable inputs can thus help the Lucknow-based franchise go a long way.
Squad: Son Wan Ho (men's singles), Lee Dong Keun (men's singles), RMV Gurusaidutt (men's singles), Beiwen Zhang (women's singles), Rasika Raje (women's singles), Mathias Christiansen (doubles), Ashwini Ponnappa (doubles), MR Arjun (doubles), Sanyogita Ghorpade (doubles), Yang Lee (doubles)