PBL 2018: Top 5 young Indian aces from the Mumbai leg
Premier Badminton League (PBL) is back with its fourth season after the end of an exhilarating season of badminton worldwide. For the first time, 9 teams took part in the auction instead of the usual 8 with Pune 7 Aces being the new entrant in the tournament's fourth edition.
The first leg of the PBL is over and it came with a lot of surprises. The new franchise Pune 7 Aces lost both of its matches, losing their first match to defending champions Hyderabad Hunters who started with an emphatic win stamping their authority from the word go. Mumbai Rockets started with a big 5-0 win as the Season 1 champions Delhi Dashers were taken to the drycleaners by the home side.
Also, Awadhe Warriors and Ahmedabad Smash Masters started with a win but North Eastern Warriors had to suffer a loss in their first match of the season.
Let's look at the 5 best performances from the Mumbai leg:
#5 Sameer Verma
Sameer Verma had an excellent 2018 season where he won two Super 300 titles and a Super 100 title as well. Also, he reached the semi-finals of the 2018 BWF World Tour Finals. HS Prannoy did not have a good year due to injuries but had an unbeaten record in PBL with 7 wins in 7 matches.
Prannoy started the match on the front foot as he took a 4-0 lead over the 24-year old. But, the in-form Verma bounced back and equaled the score at 14-14. The deciding point went in favour of the World No. 12 as he won the first game. Verma gave Prannoy no chance in the second game as he wrapped it up early with the score 15-9.
Sameer Verma's victory over the 2017 US Open winner helped Mumbai Rockets beat Delhi Dashers 5-0.
#4 Rituparna Das
Saina Nehwal had to sit out of the tie but her replacement Rituparna Das filled the shoes of the 28-year old successfully. Das had a good 2018 season in which she won the Polish International and finished runner-up at the Belgian International. In comparison, Kirsty Gilmour had a much better season as she won a Super 100 title and also bagged a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in women's singles.
Before the start of this match, North East Warriors had lost all the three matches played on the night including a trump card match, thus trailing by 3-(-1). The World No. 60 Das never allowed the World No. 28 Gilmour to get in the game as she swooped the match 15-8, 15-9, thus bringing the score for the night to 3-0.
Das's victory over the Scottish ace did not count for much as her team eventually lost the tie to Ahmedabad Smash Masters.
#3 PV Sindhu
Two of the biggest names in women's singles across the world faced each other as defending champions Hyderabad Hunters faced the new side Pune 7 Aces in the first tie of the tournament. Marin, who helped the Hunters win the title last season, had to face her old side in the first tie of the season.
The much-anticipated encounter mattered really less in the end as before the start of the match, the Hyderabad-based franchise were leading Pune 7 Aces by 4-(-1). Marin, being the skipper of the side, tried to play for the pride of the team as she won the first game 15-11. The Indian ace wasn't going to lie down as she came back into the match with a 15-8 victory in the second game.
Sindhu looked in control in the third game as she was ahead 7-2 but the Spanish ace showed her class and brought the score to 9-9 and eventually 13-13. The in-form Sindhu won the nail-biter by getting two consecutive points and helped her side win the tie 6-(-1).
#2 Lakshya Sen
Lakshya Sen had a breakout 2018 season which saw him clinch a gold medal at the Asia Junior Championships and a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships. He also won a silver medal at the Youth Olympic games and won the Tata Open India International as well.
He has continued his good form in the PBL as he nearly caused an upset in the first match against the World No. 31 Mark Caljouw. Sen won the first game 15-10 and lost the second game 12-15. The 17-year-old took a 5-0 lead in the third game but the Dutch ace equaled it at 11-11 and forced an error from the teenager when the score was 14-14, thus winning the match.
In Pune's second match against Awadhe Warriors, Pune were trailing 2-3 before the start of the match. Sen made easy work of his opponent, Dong Keun Lee, ranked 27 in men's singles, as the teenager won the match 15-11, 15-8. Sen's efforts went in vain as Pune lost 3-4 to Awadhe eventually.
#1 Shreyanshi Pardeshi
The World No. 201 Shreyanshi Pardeshi was the surprise package of the first leg as she beat the World No.32 Evgeniya Kosetskaya.
The 20-year-old lost the first game 12-15 and was mainly struggling due to the height difference between her and the opponent. She changed her strategy and won the second game 15-8.
The decider was also quite comfortable for the Indian as the local girl beat the Russian ace 15-10 to help Mumbai Rockets win 5-0 against the Delhi Dashers. Moreover, the Delhi-based franchise activated their trump card for this match and ended up getting a negative point due to the Mumbaikar's heroics.