Two of the most popular players — Saina Nehwal and the recently-retired Taufik Hidayat — will be the cynosure of all eyes as table-toppers Hyderabad Hotshots takes on bottom-placed Banga Beats in the final league match of the inaugural Indian Badminton League at Gachibowli Stadium here on Tuesday.
Indonesia’s Taufik, a former World and Olympic champion, has not featured in any game so far for Hyderabad Hotshots and has been more of a ‘coach’ in its campaign.
Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, the 2013 All England semifinalist who is unbeaten so far in this league, and a confident Ajay Jayaram are spearheading the men's singles challenge.
Hotshots have been favourites on current form in this IBL and the last round game is another opportunity to maintain that tag and move into the knockout phase on a high.
Saina, who is also yet to lose a match, may not face problems in her singles match against possible opponent Carolina Marin.
Good crowd expected
But, it would be a great treat for the fans (a capacity crowd is expected) if the Beats’ icon player P. Kashyap were to line up against Hidayat as both of them enjoy a huge following because of their attacking game.
There was a setback of sorts for Banga Beats when Hu Yun was replaced by Jan O Jorgensen in men's singles against Krrish Delhi Smashers on Sunday night.
But, it was Arvind Bhat who played his first game following a protest by the Delhi team against the replacement.
Against this backdrop, it will be interesting to see whom Banga Beats will prefer for the second men's singles here against the home team.
Saina insists that every match is going to be tough. “We will give our best in this decisive phase. It is a great feeling to play in front of home crowds and I am playing much better in India now,” she said.
Hotshots coach Rajender too is keen to see that the players sustain the intensity in the final round game to go into the knockout phase on a winning note.
“It is better to finish off the league with a win,” he added.