Saina Nehwal, HS Prannoy and other marquee players formally launch third edition of Premier Badminton League
In the opening tie of the Premier Badminton League, Chennai Smashers will take on Saina Nehwal’s Awadhe Warriors on 23 December.
New Delhi: The world's richest prize money offering badminton tournament, Premier Badminton League's third edition, kick-starts on 23 December.
The three-week long tournament that ends on 14 January 2018 will see 8 teams; Delhi Dashers, Mumbai Rockets, Hyderabad Hunters, Awadhe Warriors, Chennai Smashers, Bengaluru Blasters, Ahmedabad Smash Masters and North Eastern Warriors.
These teams will battle out across five different locations of India including Guwahati, Delhi, Lucknow, Chennai and Hyderabad.
On Wednesday, marquee players of all the eight teams joined in for a press conference to formally launch the league.
In the opening tie of the league, Chennai Smashers will take on Saina Nehwal’s Awadhe Warriors on 23 December.
Lee Yan of Smashers declared, “We go into the league as the defending champions and we are quite confident of repeating our last year’s performance.”
“We have the team that has already gone the distance. If anything, we are better this year,” he added.
Yan will, however, be aware that the Saina’s Warriors have been the most consistent squad in the PBL.
Saina is counting on this famed consistency to begin her team’s campaign on a high note. “We have made it to the knock-out stages of all the editions so far. It was nothing but bad luck that prevented us from winning the trophy,” she pointed out.
“But we are upbeat about our chances in this edition and will give it our all to bring the trophy home,” the 2017 World championship bronze medallist added.
HS Prannoy, the most successful men’s singles player during the last edition, will lead debutants Ahmedabad Smash Masters’ challenge and is hopeful of a great outing.
“We are a new team and have been gelling very well. We will be the team to watch out for. Believe me when I say this, we will be the team to beat,” he said.
Tian Houwei, the lone Chinese player in PBL- 3, will turn up for Delhi Dashers and feels his team has enough firepower to light up the league.
“I am new to this league but after looking at the teams, I can say that we are no way behind any squad and have all the ingredients to go all the way,” he said.
Another new entrant to the league, North Eastern Warriors, will be spearheaded by the likes of Ajay Jayaram and Tzu Wei Wang of Chinese Taipei.
Ajay was confident ahead of the league and said, “If you look at our team composition, you can see that we have the most balanced squad, with the right kind of players for every encounter. We are confident and know that we have it in us to go all the way.”
Olympic Gold medallist Carolina Marin will hope to do better for Hyderabad Hunters this year and exorcise the demons of the last season where they were knocked-out in the semis.
“We had come really close last season and it was really sad that we could not go on to win the title. But we will come out all guns blazing and make sure that we lay our hands on the title,” the former World No 1 from Spain said.
Last year’s finalists Mumbai Rockets will be led by Korean star Son Wan Ho and his squad will have a point to prove.
“We were the finalists last year and even though this is a new squad, we are confident of going all the way. Also on the personal front, I did not have a great outing last season and I am eager to make amends to that as well,” Son Wan said.
Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, President of Badminton Association of India (BAI), was confident of the league’s success and said, “We are delighted to be back once again and we are hopeful of a great show. With so many world-class players in action, I am quite sure the fans will be in for a great treat.”
The Vodafone Premier Badminton League is held under the aegis of the Badminton Association of India and is organised by Sportzlive, the official licensee partner of the league. It has already acquired the tag of being one of the richest badminton leagues and attracts all the top players, with the teams battling for total prize money of INR 6 crore.
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