PBL 2018: Rating each team in the Premier Badminton League and their chances
The stage is all set for the third season of the Premier Badminton League (PBL), with a blockbuster match between Saina Nehwal’s Awadhe Warriors and P.V. Sindhu’s Chennai Smashers opening the new edition in Guwahati on Saturday.
With the expansion of the league, in terms of prize money, teams and competition days, the cash-rich competition is expected to be bigger and better this year. The addition of Ahmedabad Smash Masters and North Eastern Warriors make it an eight-team affair battling out for the Rs. 3 crore winners’ purse.
As we enter the new season, we look at each of the teams and their marquee players.
Ahmedabad Smash Masters 3/5
With World no. 1 Tai Tzu Ying and H.S. Prannoy in their ranks, Ahmedabad look stronger in the singles front. Tai Tzu has been on a roll this year with five Superseries titles while Prannoy’s sizzling performance this year saw him beat top names like Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long among others.
The Kerala-born shuttler’s unbeaten record at the PBL-2 also adds to his confidence. He will also have some performance pressure to justify his highest bid of Rs 62 lakh by his team. Moreover, the presence of Sourabh Verma will also add to their men’s singles armoury. The Hong duo of Lee Cheuk and Lee Chung Hei can bring them some wins in doubles too. Overall, the Smash Masters will be a team to watch out for this season.
North Eastern Warriors 2/5
Coached by former Indian shuttler Nikhil Kanetkar, debutants North Eastern Warriors don’t have too many big names but ones who can make an impact. The Warriors will have World no. 11 Wong Tzu Wei and 13th ranked Ajay Jayaram at the helm. Another important name in the team is Michelle Li who is capable of surprising her opponents with her attacking game.
The team looked stronger in men’s doubles with the Korean men’s doubles combo of Shin Baek Cheol and Kim Gi Jung expected to deliver some wins. Besides, youngsters Ruthvika Shivani Gadde, Pratul Joshi and Chirag Shetty would be eager to make a mark.