PBL 2018: All you need to know about the Bengaluru Blasters
Despite boasting of several stars, the Bengaluru Blasters have never managed to make a mark in the Premier Badminton League (PBL), with their best performance being a shabby fifth-place finish in the last edition. Perhaps, it was pressure that got to them or it might be that the team members simply could not coordinate with each other and deliver on the day.
The Blasters are looking to change all that in the upcoming season. Viktor Axelsen makes a return to the team to which he had his allegiance in Season 2. But this time, he comes as a superstar, having imposed his authority on the circuit.
The 23-year-old Dane produced scintillating performances at the major events to truly establish himself as the world’s best men’s singles player. His accomplishments include the World Championships gold medal, the World Superseries Finals title, the India Open Superseries and the Japan Open Superseries.
It is thus expected that Axelsen will be looking to ride on that momentum to produce fireworks at the PBL too.
But the World No. 1 cannot hope to take the Blasters to glory all by himself. He needs able support from all his team members.
World No. 45 Chong Wei Feng is the second men’s singles expert in the team. The 30-year-old’s performances haven’t been of the highest order on the Tour in 2017, but there’s no denying that he indeed possesses the talent to cause a few upsets.
India’s Subhankar Dey is the third men’s singles player in the squad. Having worked his way up the ladder without any coach, the diligent Dey is currently perched at a career-high 63rd. The 24-year-old’s persistent efforts were rewarded at the Senior National Championships, where he won a bronze and even upset the Singapore Open champion, B Sai Praneeth. He can definitely come in handy, should he get a chance to play.
World No. 16 Kirsty Gilmour makes her first appearance at the PBL in this edition. The Scotland No. 1 reigned supreme at the Scottish Open Grand Prix at home in November and would be keen to carry on that form for the Bengaluru Blasters.
The 24-year-old won a couple of other titles in 2017, besides settling for the silver medal at the European Championships. She caused a big upset at the World Championships when she knocked out the sixth seed He Bingjiao.
With her, would be the former Indian national champion Rituparna Das. The 20-year-old has been bothered by a spate of injuries of late and is desperately looking to build some confidence. The PBL training with some of the world’s best would surely provide her that opportunity.
Boe and Reddy can make a lot of difference
For the struggling Blasters, doubles can be the key to success. With the World No. 2 men’s doubles exponent, Mathias Boe in their squad, they can certainly dream of conquering the PBL. Boe might be all of 37 years, but there’s no stopping the Dane. He simply continues to excel.
The southpaw tasted glory at the Singapore Open, the Korea Open, the European Championships and the Syed Modi International, besides finishing second best in a host of other top-level tournaments.
The veteran Dane loves to perform in front of his Indian fans and would be eager to put in masterful displays at the PBL. He would have the retired Kim Sa Rang for company.
The former Asian champion and World Championships bronze medallist can very well form a stable partnership with Boe and deliver the wins for the Bengaluru team. India’s Manu Attri, one half of the National Championships-winning pair, too can make a lot of difference.
In mixed doubles, the Blasters can bank on the India No. 1 mixed doubles player, N Sikki Reddy, who is currently ranked within the world’s top 20. The Syed Modi International champion has already established her enormous talent on the international tour and fans would love to see her perform with gusto at home.
20-year-old Sanjana Santosh is the youngster in the doubles section roped in by the Blasters. This would be a terrific opportunity for her to sharpen her skills.
Men’s singles - Viktor Axelsen, Chong Wei Feng, Subhankar Dey
Women’s singles - Kirsty Gilmour, Rituparna Das
Men’s doubles - Mathias Boe, Manu Attri, Kim Sa Rang
Mixed doubles - N Sikki Reddy, Sanjana Santosh
Coach: Arvind Bhat