PBL 2018: Complete schedule released, Saina Nehwal to meet PV Sindhu in opener
Guwahati will open the third season of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) on December 23, 2017 as the complete schedule was announced on Monday. The pan-Indian league will be hosted in five cities this time, with Delhi, Lucknow, Chennai, and Hyderabad being the others.
Hyderabad, which is very much Indian badminton’s hub, will get the honour to host both the semi-finals as well as the final. The 23-day event will see one match taking place every day with it culminating into the grand finale on January 14.
While Guwahati and Lucknow get to host four matches each, the rest of the legs will have five days of PBL3 action.
Saina vs Sindhu in the offing on the first day
With defending champions Chennai Smashers meeting Awadhe Warriors on the first day, the third season of this highly popular league is expected to start with a blockbuster clash between India’s top two shuttle queens, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu.
The World Championships silver medallist Sindhu led the Smashers to their maiden title in the last edition. It will be interesting to see her facing Nehwal just a few weeks after the two orchestrated a spectacular match in the final of the Senior National Championships which was won by Nehwal.
The Awadhe Warriors have also retained the in-form Srikanth Kidambi, who has had a dazzling 2017 season that saw him clinch four Superseries titles. With Saina and Srikanth spearheading their attack, the Warriors certainly look a strong force and will aim to do much better than their two semi-final finishes.
The PBL has been expanded this time with two new teams entering the fray. Instead of the usual six, this edition will witness eight teams battling for supremacy with the North Eastern Warriors and the Ahmedabad Smash Masters making their debut.
The biggest foreign stars are the two World No. 1s. The women’s singles top-ranked player, Tai Tzu Ying, who has won an incredible five Superseries titles this year, is a new name in the PBL and she will represent the Ahmedabad franchise. Men’s singles No. 1 Viktor Axelsen, who was crowned the world champion in August, will don the Bengaluru Blasters jersey.
The costliest player this time is India’s HS Prannoy. The World No. 10 was bought by the Ahmedabad Smash Masters for a whopping Rs. 62 lakh.