With the progress of the inaugural Vodafone Indian Badminton League (IBL), concerns are surfacing about its tight scheduling and late-night finishes. The two teams which played in New Delhi on Thursday night will assemble at the B.B.D. Academy complex here on Saturday after travelling around 500 kilometres.
Hyderabad Hotshots had to rush for its next engagement against Krrish Delhi Smashers here after winning the opening tie against Awadhe Warriors late in the evening. The task is even tougher for Mumbai Masters, which overcame Banga Beats in a gruelling affair that soared well past midnight, and reached here on Friday for its match against Pune Pistons.
G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa have reportedly complained about the hectic schedule and poor travel plans. The disappearance of spectators from matches stretching beyond midnight is not a good sign for the league.
However, Saina Nehwal defended the scheduling by giving the example of the Indian Premier League.
“IPL is happening the same way. But I think when we travel to different places, it will spread awareness about the sport. It will be hectic, no doubt, but in order to popularise the game we will have to do it.”
Amid all the rush, Saina and her teammates will try to redraw their strategy against Delhi. The Hotshots will be upbeat after their thrilling win over the Warriors. But they will definitely expect better results from the men’s doubles combination of V. Shem Goh and Khim Wah Lim.
The team will examine whether to give Ajay Jayaram a second chance or resort to the experienced Taufik Hidayat. But everything will depend upon the Indonesian’s fitness.
Delhi Smashers will take inspiration from the performance of its young singles star Sai Praneeth. The Malaysian men’s doubles duo of Kien Kean Koo and Boon Hoeng Tan is a potent weapon and the team will hope that Koo and Jwala put their opening loss aside and form a winning combination in the mixed doubles.
It will be a toss-up between Daren Liew and H.S. Prannoy, who ended up losing to Saurabh Verma.
The Mumbai players will do well to overcome their fatigue when they meet Pune. The team will keep its fingers crossed about star shuttler Lee Chong Wei’s availability, but will take heart from the performance of Vladimir Ivanov and Marc Zweibler.
Pune will be enthusiastic after its opening win over Delhi. With Juliane Schenk in good touch and the mixed doubles combination of Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Ashwini finding rhythm, it will be keen to see World No. 7 Tien Minh Nyugen perform to his potential. The seasoned pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas will be keen to record their first win.
The results: Mumbai Masters bt Banga Beats 3-2 (Vladimir Ivanov bt P. Kashyap 21-18, 21-18; Tine Baun lost to Ying Tai Tzu 17-21, 18-21; Pranav Chopra & Manu Attri lost to Carston Mogensen & Akshay Dewalkar 21-13, 21-12; Marc Zweibler bt Hu Yun 17-21, 1-17, 11-6; Ivanov & N. Sikki Reddy bt Dewalkar and Aparna Balan 21-18, 21-19).
Keywords: Indian Badminton League