After a terrific three-week action in the league stage at the Premier Badminton League (PBL) 2018, we are now awaiting the first of the semi-finals which is to be held at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday. The former champions Delhi Dashers take on the in-form Hyderabad Hunters in this tie.
Let's state it at the outset that the Hyderabad Hunters are the favourites in this face-off, even though the Delhi franchise have been past winners. Hyderabad began the current season, showing signs of struggle and inconsistency. Reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin has obviously been their talisman and is yet to lose a match, but overall the team didn't perform like real title contenders in the initial stages.
They were even hammered 0-5 by the very team they will be facing tonight -- the Delhi Dashers. That result seemed to be a wake-up call for Team Hyderabad and they rose to the occasion in their next two assignments.
They annihilated the Awadhe Warriors and the Bengaluru Blasters by an identical score of 6-(-1) and shot up to the top of the table.
The main reason has been the fact that all the members of the team were able to contribute and that is what helped the turnaround. Singapore Superseries winner B Sai Praneeth's return to form has been a welcome relief for the Hunters and their men's singles department now looks quite strong.
Tian Houwei, however, is one player from the Delhi Dashers who could have a major say in tonight's match. The Chinese produced a stunning comeback in Delhi's match against the North Eastern Warriors and that eventually took them to the semi-finals.
Delhi's doubles pairs haven't looked very confident in their last couple of matches and that could cost them dearly as Hyderabad's Satwiksairaj Rankireddy can be a lethal threat for them.
A lot will depend on the blockbuster women's singles clash between Carolina Marin and World No. 6 Sung Ji Hyun, which would undoubtedly be the match of the day. The Spaniard got the better of the Korean in their only PBL 2018 match so far, but Sung does possess the tools to make this a tight affair. If she can somehow pull off an upset, Delhi will have a huge advantage.
Here is all the information you need to know
Tournament name: Premier Badminton League Season 3
Venue: Gachibowli Indoor Stadium, Hyderabad
Date: Friday, January 12, 2018
Time: Delhi Dashers vs Hyderabad Hunters at 7pm IST
Channel: Star Sports 1/Star Sports 1 HD
Livestream information: Star Sports Hotstar
Delhi Dashers - Wong Wing Ki Vincent, Tian Houwei, RMV Gurusaidutt, Sung Ji Hyun, Shreyanshi Pardeshi, Vladimir Ivanov, Ivan Sozonov, Ashwini Ponnappa, Pranaav Jerry Chopra, Arathi Sara Sunil.
Hyderabad Hunters - B Sai Praneeth, Lee Hyun Il, Rahul Yadav Chittaboina, Carolina Marin, Rasika Raje, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Yoo Yeon-Seong, Markis Kido, Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth, Anoushka Parikh.