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PBL 2018: All you need to know about Delhi Dashers

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Feature
211   //    19 Dec 2018, 23:10 IST

Tommy Sugiarto
Tommy Sugiarto

Indonesian veteran Tommy Sugiarto was a key member when the Delhi Acers won the inaugural edition of the Premier Badminton League. Two seasons later, the Delhi franchise has come armed with a new name -- the Delhi Dashers -- but with their same old trusted member, Sugiarto.

The Delhi Dashers couldn’t have found a better time to make the right choice. Splurging Rs. 70 lakhs for the Indonesian in a hard-fought battle with a couple of other teams was a decision they could be thankful for later.

The former World No. 3 could just emerge as the match-winner and help them get back their lost glory. In 2016, Sugiarto was the male ‘Most Valuable Player of the Season’ for the Delhi brigade in a season where he kept wreaking havoc on his opponents time and again.

He is familiar with this team as well as this format and that is a big reason why the Dashers are pinning their hopes high on him once again. The resurgent Indonesian has just finished one of his most consistent seasons on the BWF World Tour after clawing his way back to the World No. 10 ranking and winning the Thailand Masters on the way. He even qualified for the BWF World Tour Finals and that should be good enough reason for any badminton aficionado to expect him to bring his confidence at the PBL too.

Last season’s highest-paid player HS Prannoy is the captain of this team. However, his results in 2018 haven’t been anything noteworthy. After his best season on the circuit last year, Prannoy did manage to get the bronze medal at the Asian Championships in 2018, but since then he has pretty much slipped into oblivion due to a battery of injuries and inconsistency.

Having said that, Prannoy traditionally performs well in this format and could once again use this platform to announce his return to form.

Delhi’s choice in the women’s singles category leaves a lot to be desired. World No. 32 Evgeniya Kosetskaya is their only women’s singles expert and the only time she made it to any final this season was at the European Championships, where she lost to Carolina Marin.

With Marin herself being a part of this league along with other superstars like Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, it could become an uphill task for the Russian when she faces them.

World No. 16 Chia Hsin Lee from Taipei will be spearheading the challenge in mixed doubles and could make a lot of difference, provided she gets able support from her teammates. The Delhi squad has a handful of talented doubles exponents but how well they can gel together is what remains to be seen.

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Thailand’s Maneepong Jongjit, a former World No. 7, exclusively plays men’s doubles and is currently perched at No. 32 in the world rankings. Chai Biao of China also dabbles only in men’s doubles and the two could be teamed up together.

China’s 148th ranked mixed doubles shuttler, Wang Sijie is the only male member from the doubles shuttlers who has experience of playing in that discipline. He could probably be asked to don the Delhi jersey in mixed doubles alongside Lee.

For Indian youngsters, Chirag Sen, Harika Veludurthi and Vighnesh Devlekar, the PBL stint would give them the perfect learning opportunity that they can bank on to further their career.

Squad: HS Prannoy (men’s singles), Tommy Sugiarto (men’s singles), Chirag Sen (men’s singles), Evgeniya Kosetskaya (women’s singles), Maneepong Jongjit (doubles), Chai Biao (doubles), Wang Sijie (doubles), Vighnesh Devlekar (doubles), Chia Hsin Lee (doubles), Harika Veludurthi (doubles)


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