The Premier Badminton League Season 5 auction took place in New Delhi as the creme de la creme of the badminton world went under the hammer. Seven franchises utilized their different strategies in order to build their squad for the fifth season of the PBL which begins on January 20, 2020.
With each franchise given a chance to retain the available players from their PBL Season 4 squad, the Awadhe Warriors decided to go with star American shuttler Beiwen Zhang at the price of 39 Lakhs.
The China-born has represented three nations - her country of origin China, Singapore and United States on the international circuit. Over the years, she has accumulated seven BWF Grand Prix titles as well the same number of titles at the BWF International Challenge/Series level.
In 2018, Zhang won the India Open, an event part of the BWF World Tour defeating PV Sindhu in the final. She currently ranks World No.11 in Women's Singles and has reached a career-high ranking of World No. 9 back in 2017.
Tanvi Lad completes the Women's Singles roster for the Warriors as she will aim to play a solid backup to Zhang during the season. Lad was picked up by the franchise at her base price of 1 Lakh. She has been a part of the Indian Women's team at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and even won a couple of BWF International Challenge/Series events.
The Awadhe Warriors decided to go for elite experience when it came to signing a Mixed Doubles specialist. They went for the massively experienced Danish star shuttler Christinna Pedersen.
Pedersen has ranked World Rank No. 1 in Mixed Doubles and World Rank No. 2 in Women's Doubles during the course of her storied career. She won the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Women's Doubles to improve upon her bronze medal finish in Mixed Doubles event at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
The Dane also boasts of a host of medals in World Championships (1 Silver, 4 Bronze), European Championships (6 Gold, 2 Silver), European Mixed Team Championships (5 Gold, 1 Silver) and the European Women's Team Championships (5 Gold, 1 Silver). She will certainly play a major role to lead the charge for the Awadhe Warriors in the Mixed Doubles matches.
The Awadhe Warriors played it a bit safe on their auction purse when it came to the Men's Singles category as they spent just 32 Lakhs to acquire the services of three players. The highest bid was for the man from Hong Kong, Wong Wing Ki Vincent, who was signed for his base price of 20 Lakhs. Ki Vincent ranks World No. 30 currently and has achieved a career-best ranking of World No. 10 back in 2017.
To add some Indian talent to the Men's Singles lineup, the Awadhe Warriors picked up Indian shuttlers Shubhankar Dey and Ajay Jayaram. The two shuttlers were picked at their base prices at 7 Lakhs (Dey) and 5 Lakhs (Jayaram).
Shubhankar Dey hails from the city of Kolkata in West Bengal and has been active on the international circuit since 2012. He has won four BWF International Challenge/Series titles and even won a BWF World Tour title in 2018.
Ajay Jayaram is a comparatively more experienced shuttler than Shubhankar Dey and has ranked as high as World No. 13 in Men's Singles. Jayaram holds three BWF International Challenge/Series titles to add to his couple of BWF Grand Prix titles. Jayaram will likely be a key contender to partner up with Wong Wing Ki Vincent for the Men's Singles fixtures for the Awadhe Warriors in Season 5 of the Premier Badminton League.
In stark contrast to their approach for the Men's Singles, Awadhe Warriors went all out when it came to the Men's Doubles players. They picked up three foreign players in the squad - Ivan Sozonov (Russia), Shin Baek Cheol (South Korea) and Ko Sung Hyun (South Korea) for a combined sum of 1.13 Crores.
Shin Baek Cheol, the largely experienced Men's Doubles and Mixed Doubles from South Korea was signed for a value of 45 Lakhs by the Warriors. Baek Cheol has won a multitude of medals throughout his career in both Men's Doubles as well as Mixed Doubles events. He has won two gold medals as the Asian Games, one gold at the Asian Championships and even grabbed a gold at the BWF World Championships. His role would be key for the Warriors' success in PBL Season 5.
The Awadhe Warriors managed to snag Baek Cheol's international Men's Doubles partner Ko Sung Hyun for a sum of 55 Lakhs. Ko Sung Hyun has won the BWF World Championships gold medal with Baek Cheol in 2014. He also has won multiple Asian Championships gold medals and a gold medal for the Men's Team event at the 2014 Incheon Games. The partnership of Baek Cheol and Sung Hyun will be key for the Warriors.
Ivan Sozonov, the lanky Russian was snapped up by the Warriors for a price of 13 Lakhs and his experience on the European circuit will add a lot of depth to the roster for the Awadhe Warriors.
Awadhe Warriors PBL Season 5 Squad
Beiwen Zhang, Tanvi Lad (Women's Singles), Ajay Jayaram, Shubhankar Dey, Wong Wing Ki Vincent (Men's Singles), Shin Baek Cheol, Ko Sung Hyun, Ivan Sozonov (Men's Doubles), Christinna Pedersen (Mixed Doubles)