The action from the Premier Badminton League Season 5 player auction gathered in the capital city of New Delhi as the franchises prepared with their squads for the thrilling badminton action set to begin from January 20, 2020.
The player auction saw the seven franchises - Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Raptors, Chennai Superstarz, Hyderabad Hunterz, Mumbai Rockets, North Eastern Warriors and Pune 7 Aces bid ferociously on the players of their choice to build a competitive squad to challenge for the PBL title.
To add spice to the auction, all the franchises had the opportunity to retain a player of their choice from their previous squad and the Mumbai Rockets decided to go with Kim Gi Jung from South Korea at a price of ₹45 lakh.
Kim Gi Jung is a seasoned veteran from the men's doubles and mixed doubles circuit and has won a host of medals throughout his career. Gi Jung won two Bronze medals at the BWF World Championships before going on to win the gold medal at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games in the Men's Team event.
He has won multiple events of the BWF Superseries, BWF Grand Prix as well as the BWF International Challenge/Series on the international circuit.
The Mumbai Rockets played it smart and added Kim Sa Rang to their roster to complete the longtime pairing in Men's Doubles. Kim Sa Rang was signed by the Mumbai Rockets for his base price ₹40 lakh and alongside Gi Jung, the doubles pair has ranked as high as World No.2 back in 2016.
The pairing of Kim Sa Rang has worked since a long time, winning many titles over the years and the chemistry between the fellow South Korean shuttlers will be a positive element on the Mumbai Rockets' squad.
The Rockets added more depth to their men's doubles lineup with the signing of Indian shuttlers Pranav Jerry Chopra and Shlok Ramachandran for ₹6 lakh and ₹1.5 lakh respectively.
Pranav Jerry Chopra is a graduate from the famed Gopichang Badminton Academy and has been the national champion of India across youth categories. He was part of the gold medal-winning side at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in the mixed team event.
Shlok Ramachandran has been around the international circuit for around five years and won six BWF International Challenge/Series events in Men's Doubles and one event in mixed doubles as well.
To add firepower to the women's division, the Rockets signed Indonesian shuttler Pia Zebadiah for the base price ₹17 lakh and followed it up by signing Jessica Pugh from England for ₹13 lakh, a steep rise from her base price of ₹6.75 lakh.
Pia Zebadiah comes from a line of fine sportsmen with her siblings Bona Septano and Markus Kido having played badminton at the international level for Indonesia. Along with Markus Kido, Pia formed a stellar mixed doubles team, reaching the World No.8 rank back in the 2013 season and has been ranked World No.6 in the women's doubles category.
Zebadiah won a gold medal at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games and also has a bronze medal at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
Englishwoman Jessica Pugh has been playing the game since the tender age of 11 and progressed from the Junior circuit on to the senior level. She was a part of the bronze medal-winning team of England at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Pugh has won a couple of BWF International Challenge/Series events in Women's Doubles and has seven titles in Mixed Doubles with her fellow countryman partner Ben Lane.
In the men's singles category, the Rockets signed South Korean shuttler Lee Dong Keun for a sum of ₹30 lakh. Dong Keun ranks World No. 33 in Men's Singles and has won an Asian Games Gold medal in the Men's Team event in the 2014 Incheon Games. He has also won four BWF Grand Prix events along with one BWF International Challenge/Series title.
The Mumbai Rockets franchise decided to splurge heavily to stock up their men's singles roster as they picked up Arjuna awardee Indian shuttler Parupalli Kashyap for a hefty sum of ₹43 lakh. Kashyap is currently ranked World No. 30 in men's singles and has achieved a career-high ranking of World No.6 back in the year 2013.
Kashyap has trained under Pullela Gopichand at the famed academy and is one of the most well-known Indian shuttlers. He has won three Commonwealth Games medals - Bronze medal in men's singles and Silver in the mixed team event at the 2010 Delhi Games and the Gold medal in the men's singles event at the 2014 Glasgow Games.
He created history when he went all the way to the quarterfinals at the 2012 London Olympics in the men's singles event, becoming the first Indian male shuttler to do so.
He will be leading the charge for the Mumbai Rockets and will be the face of the franchise for the fifth season of the PBL. The Mumbai Rockets also signed a few youngsters when they procured the services of Shreyansh Jaiswal and Shriyanshi Pardeshi for their base prices of ₹1 lakh and ₹1.5 lakhs respectively.
The Rockets have formed a strong doubles contingent and have Parupalli Kashyap and Lee Dong Keun in the men's singles division, but lack an experienced women's singles player. It will be interesting who steps up for them in season 5 of the Premier Badminton League.
Mumbai Rockets PBL Season 5 Squad
Parupalli Kashyap, Lee Dong Keun, Shreyansh Jaiswal (Men's Singles), Shriyanshi Pardeshi (Women's Singles), Kim Gi Jung, Kim Sa Rang, Pranav Jerry Chopra, Shlok Ramachandran (Men's Doubles), Pia Zebadiah, Jessica Pugh (Mixed Doubles).