2016 Premier Badminton League Day 2 preview: All eyes on a probable Kidambi Srikanth vs Parupalli Kashyap clash
The second day of the 2016 Premier Badminton League (PBL) will be doubly exciting with a double header lined up at the NSCI in Mumbai on Sunday. In the afternoon, Parupalli Kashyap’s Hyderabad Hunters will be squaring off against the Bengaluru Topguns, which counts India No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth among its stars. The tie throws up a possibility of a mouthwatering Kashyap vs Srikanth showdown for which fans are waiting with bated breath.
The evening match will see the PV Sindhu-led Chennai Smashers taking on HS Prannoy’s Mumbai Rockets and that promises to be equally enthralling. Let us have a look at how these two ties might pan out:
Hyderabad Hunters vs Bengaluru Topguns
Men’s singles: Lee Chong Wei vs Sameer Verma (probable)
This match will pit youth versus experience as Bengaluru’s 21-year-old Sameer Verma takes on Hyderabad’s 33-year-old Lee Chong Wei. Both players are coming into this contest with a rich vein of form but obviously when a team has the vast experience of a player such as the former World No. 1 Lee, the balance tilts heavily in favour of that team.
The Malaysian has won the last three Superseries events he has played and will look to replicate that form in the PBL.
Women’s singles: Supanida K vs Suo Di (probable)
The women’s singles will witness a battle of youngsters as Chinese 22-year-old Suo Di will represent the Topguns while Thai girl Supanida K, all of 18 years, will be flying the flag for the Hunters. Hyderabad will look to enjoy a slim advantage in this contest as the Thai player is one of the fastest-rising young talents on the Tour presently. In 2015, the World No. 59 reached the final of the World Junior Mixed Team Championships and also captured the Sri Lankan International Challenge as well as the Thailand International Challenge titles.
Suo Di, on the other hand, hasn’t played on the Tour since 2014 and might find it difficult to cope with such a sprightly teenager.
Men’s Doubles: K Nandagopal/Carsten Mogensen vs Thien How Hoon/Khim Wah Lim (probable)
The Bengaluru pair of Thien How Hoon/Khim Wah Lim is the more seasoned pair in this match. The Malaysians are regular partners on the Tour and are ranked 32nd in the men’s doubles world rankings.
They also reached the final of the Chinese Taipei GP in October which will stand them in good stead in this tie.
Even though All England Open champion Carsten Mogensen is the biggest star out of the four players in this match, the former World No. 1 will be without his usual partner, Mathias Boe who is playing for the Mumbai Rockets. India men’s singles No. 1 KIdambi Srikanth’s brother Nandagopal, instead, will look to gain valuable experience by teaming up with the Danish legend.
Mixed doubles: Jwala Gutta/Markis Kido vs Ashwini Ponnappa/JF Nielsen (probable)
This match will be one of the most-awaited matches of the afternoon. Not only does it pit India’s premier women’s doubles partners – Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa – opposite each other but it also presents two very formidable teams against one another.
Both the sides look strong on paper and it is difficult to pick a winner in this one. Ponnappa is currently ranked 158th in mixed doubles but has the iconic Dane, JF Nielsen for support who was ranked No. 1 in 2015.
Gutta hasn’t played mixed doubles since the 2014 Commonwealth Games but can bank on the 37th ranked Markis Kido, who looks very likely to be her partner.
Men’s singles: Parupalli Kashyap vs Kidambi Srikanth (probable)
This match will be the cynosure of all eyes. Two of the biggest Indian shuttlers and top-20 stars will belocking horns in what might turn out to be the match of the day. It is the World No. 15 Kashyap, though, who has a 2-0 edge over his younger and higher-ranked rival.
But the 29-year-old is returning from a two-month injury layoff after suffering from a muscle rupture in October and that might make him rusty. The ninth-ranked Srikanth will look to take advantage of it and secure a win for the Topguns.
Mumbai Rockets vs Chennai Smashers
Men’s singles: HS Prannoy vs Brice Leverdez (probable)
Mumbai’s HS Prannoy and Chennai’s Frenchman Brice Leverdez have met only once – at the All England Open last year. It was the 23-year-old Indian who emerged victorious in that encounter and there might very well be an encore of that result in this contest.
The 20th ranked Prannoy is one of the best young talents India has got currently. He reached one semi-final and three quarter-finals last season which should give him a lot of confidence for this match.
However, he needs to be alert as the Frenchman did take him to three games in their only meeting.
Women’s singles: Ruthvika Shivani vs PV Sindhu (probable)
In a master vs apprentice clash, it is India’s marquee shuttler PV Sindhu who will face her younger compatriot, Ruthvika Shivani. There’s no iota of doubt as to who is the favourite in this clash. PV Sindhu is the bigger star with more accomplishments and far more experience and definitely an inspiration for Ruthvika Shivani herself.
However, Sindhu cannot be complacent for Shivani has already started giving examples of her immense talent. The 18-year-old currently is perched at 130th in the world rankings after triumphing at the Bangladesh International in December. Besides, she also is the reigning Senior National Champion and will surely look to give a tough fight.
Men’s doubles: Manu Attri/Mathias Boe vs Pranaav Chopra/Toby Ng (probable)
Manu Attri and Mathias Boe of the Mumbai Rockets have a slight advantage coming into this tie. All England Open champion Boe is a former top-ranked player and Attri has just won the biggest title of his career at the Mexico City GP in December.
That said, Chennai Smashers’ Pranaav Chopra and Toby Ng’s chances too cannot be ruled out either. The 30-year-old Toby has been on the Tour for a long time and currently holds the 96th spot. India’s Pranaav Chopra, meanwhile, is fresh from his title win at the Bangladesh International and will look to carry that form into the PBL.
Mixed doubles: Vladimir Ivanov/Kamilla Juhl vs Chris Adcock/Pia Zebadiah (probable)
This will be one encounter to savour for the fans at NSCI. The hosts are powered by the presence of the former World No. 1 Danish superstar Kamilla Juhl. While she is more into women’s doubles these days,
Juhl did win the German Open in mixed doubles in February and will bring the goods to the table.Chris Adcock is highly proficient in mixed doubles and the Smashers will hope that he can deliver the win for the visitors. The World No. 7 won the Dubai World Superseries Finals just a few days back and will be raring to go in the PBL.
Indonesian Pia Zebadiah, who won the 2015 Swiss International, will also be a good support for the English star.
Men’s singles: RMV Gurusaidutt vs Simon Santoso (probable)
It is Chennai’s Simon Santoso who holds a 1-0 career record over Mumbai’s RMV Gurusaidutt in this match. But that face-off happened way back in 2009 when Gurusaidutt was an emerging star and the Indonesian was at the top of his game.
Six years later, it is the Indian who is now placed at 47th – 66 places higher than Santoso and will have a slim edge in this face-off. After an injury-riddled 2015, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist is aiming to start 2016 on a confident note and will look to push for a chance to play at the Rio Olympics.
The PBL will give him the perfect platform to showcase his skills and get used to the grind before the season officially kicks off.