PBL 2018: All you need to know about the Mumbai Rockets
Having had to bite the dust in the final in the last two editions of the Premier Badminton League (PBL), the Mumbai Rockets would be desperately looking for a change in fortunes. In both the finals, they lost by an identical score of 4-3, which shows how far they went before succumbing to defeats.
They are surely hoping that the arrival of the former World No. 1 Son Wan Ho in their squad would bring them good luck. The Korean, who is currently fifth in the world rankings, can surely make a lot of difference.
The World Championships bronze medallist has been a consistent performer on the Tour, in spite of the fact that he could not win any title this year. If one needs any confirmation of the enormous talent that he is endowed with, then one needs to have a look at the result of the 2014 Hong Kong Open final, where he prevailed over Chen Long in straight games.
Son Wan Ho struggled in the last edition of the PBL, which could be an even bigger motivation for him to deliver his best this season.
Sameer Verma, whose season has been blighted by a shoulder injury, is the second men’s singles player for the Rockets. Verma could not play since the Japan Open in September and would be itching to get some much-needed match play at the PBL before the 2018 season starts in full swing.
The Syed Modi International champion reached a couple of Superseries quarter-finals, but injuries made it difficult for him to build on his good results.
Beiwen Zhang of the USA, who is enjoying a career-best year, spearheads the women’s singles challenge. The American’s 2017 achievements include defending her Dutch Open title and reaching the final of the Bitburger Open.
The 11th ranked Zhang could be a threat on her day. Her big upset wins over PV Sindhu and Akane Yamaguchi this year give a testimony to that.
Legendary Lee Yong Dae in the squad
With some mind-boggling achievements on his resume, Lee Yong Dae will be taking up the reins in doubles. The legend has been to the pinnacle of the world rankings in both men’s and mixed doubles.
The Korean has a staggering 43 Superseries titles to his name across the two disciplines, which includes as many as 37 in men’s doubles alone. Certainly, his presence can lift the morale of the entire team.
He would be pairing up with another all-time great, Tan Boon Heong. The Malaysian, a former numero uno player, is currently placed at 20th. The former Commonwealth Games and Asian Games winner made it to the final of the Australian Open in 2017. Needless to say, his partnership with Lee will be one to watch.
Two of India’s top-50 men’s doubles players -- Arjun MR and Tarun Kona -- too belong to the Mumbai franchise and could come in handy, should they get a chance to play. While Arjun is currently ranked 41st, Kona is placed at 44th.
The latter, especially, had a good end to the season by winning the men’s doubles title at the South Africa International.
Gabriela Stoeva of Bulgaria too will be donning the Mumbai Rockets jersey in her PBL debut. She has been putting in some consistent performances in women’s doubles along with her sister, Stefani. The World No. 12 pair won the European Games in 2015 and finished second best at the European Championships and the Swiss Open this year.
Stoeva’s experience will surely work wonders in mixed doubles. Kuhoo Garg and Sanyam Shukla are the two Indian youngsters, who will look to learn a lot from their PBL stint.
Men’s singles - Son Wan Ho, Sameer Verma
Women’s singles - Beiwen Zhang
Men’s doubles - Lee Yong Dae, Tan Boon Heong, Arjun MR, Tarun Kona
Mixed doubles - Gabriela Stoeva, Kuhoo Garg, Sanyam Shukla
Coach: Rupesh Kumar