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PBL 2018: North Eastern Warriors vs Ahmedabad Smash Masters Today Match Preview, Where to Watch & Head to Head Record

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Preview
23 Dec 2018, 17:53 IST

Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal

The second tie on Day 2 of the Premier Badminton League Season 4 at Mumbai presents an interesting face-off the two debutants of last season, Ahmedabad Smash Masters and North Eastern Warriors.

The two had a contrasting first appearance at this pan-Indian badminton competition in the previous edition. While the Warriors failed to get their act together, the Ahmedabad franchise made a strong first impression, reaching the semi-finals.

Thus this time the North Eastern team is going all out to erase the memories of last season’s setback. They splurged Rs. 80 lakhs to acquire the services of none other than the Indian superstar Saina Nehwal.

The newly-married Nehwal has come to this tournament after a break and will be raring to go. She won the Commonwealth Games gold medal for the second time in her career in 2018, besides adding an Asian Games bronze medal. The 28-year-old would be hoping to pick up from where she left and fare well at the PBL as it would help her get some much-needed match practice ahead of the new season.

Against the Smash Masters’ World No. 28 Kirsty Gilmour, who did not have a notable achievement as such in 2018, Nehwal should be the unanimous favourite.

Ahmedabad Smash Masters too have one of the most popular shuttlers among their ranks -- Viktor Axelsen. Given the illustrious resume that he has, the former world champion should be favoured in any men’s singles rubber at this PBL.

However, one needs to remember that the Dane will be playing his first competitive match in more than two months after recovering from an ankle injury. And that is the reason why, he might be slightly rusty in his first couple of outings.

The Warriors’ Tanongsak or Tian Houwei could thus fancy their chances against the former World No. 1.

It could very well boil down to the doubles rubbers and the outcome of them could decide the tie. The Smash Masters have the highly aggressive Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who played a crucial role in bringing home the trophy to the Hyderabad Hunters in the last season. He will also get able support from Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Sikki Reddy.

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However, the Warriors have the erstwhile No. 1 Yoo Yeon Seong in their squad and his vast experience could be the difference-maker in the end. Seong also has former World No. 3 Kim Ha Na as his teammate and the two were a regular mixed doubles team earlier. If they can find their spark again, they might very well fetch a win for Nehwal’s team and help level the head-to-head with the Smash Masters.

Here’s all the information you need to know about the PBL:

Tournament name: Premier Badminton League Season 4

Venue: The National Sports Club of India, Mumbai

Date: Sunday, December 23, 2018

Time: 7 pm IST

Head-to-head: Ahmedabad Smash Masters lead 1-0

Channel: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD

Live streaming: hotstar.com

Live Updates: On Sportskeeda

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