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An exciting fare on the cards

YOU SEE... Carolina Marin and P.V. Sindhu share an animated moment during the launch of the Premier Badminton League on Friday.  

For the connoisseurs, there can’t be a better sight than two high-profile contests featuring Olympics gold medallist Carolina Marin and Rio silver medallist P.V. Sindhu and then Sindhu taking on 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal in the Hyderabad-leg of the 2017 Premier Badminton League (PBL) commencing at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Sunday.

Despite PBL being a team event, that these great names in contemporary badminton grab the headlines is a reminder of not just the popularity of the game but to the 11-point format which should satiate the hunger of badminton lovers.

Marin will spearhead Hyderabad Hunters’ challenge against Sindhu’s Chennai Smashers in the first match on Sunday in front of what is expected to be a sell-out crowd and then World No. 10 Saina, representing Awadhe Warriors, is scheduled to have a face-off with World No. 6 Sindhu on Monday.

Two classic contests which should ensure a perfect start to the league even while they are also expected to give a hint of the gap between these champions on current form.

Interestingly, Hyderabad’s Sindhu will be playing “away from home” for the Chennai outfit and Marin, who got the better of the latter in the Rio Olympics final, will be on the “home turf” of Sindhu.

There will be a Spanish touch to the home team’s campaign too as coach Fernando Rivas, who trains Marin, will be guiding the Hunters’ fortunes.

“We have been training really hard for this tournament. The short duration of the event also means that everyone will need to be at their physical best to win the league,” said Rivas. “The 11-point game format just adds to the challenges we are going to face in the course of the tournament where the games are going to be thick and fast, but I’m very confident that the team will rise to the occasion and come out victorious,” he added.

Besides the classy Marin, Hunters also has England No. 1 Rajiv Ouseph, 2016 Olympics silver medallist and men’s doubles specialist Tan Wee Kiong, 2016 Hong Kong Open finalist Sameer Verma, and local boy B. Sai Praneeth.

“Obviously, it will be a great match between Marin and Sindhu. But, I believe the result at the end of the tie will matter the most. We, as a team, will look forward to perform together rather than rest on private laurels as our main aim is to win the title and not just shine individually. Of course individual performance would count, but as a team our main focus would be to translate that into a collective success and go past the finish line,” Rivas said.

This edition will also see some other big names like World No. 2 Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark and G. Jwala (Delhi Acers), Kidambi Srikanth (Awadhe Warriors), 2016 Dubai BWF Super Series final winner, World No. 3 Viktor Axelsen and Ashwini Ponnappa (Bengaluru Blasters), seasoned campaigner Tommy Sugiarto and Parupalli Kashyap (Chennai Smashers), former Olympics mixed doubles gold medallist Lee Yong Dae and former World championship bronze medallist Sing Ji Hyun (Mumbai Rockets).

The six-team league promises an exciting fare here before it moves to Mumbai, Lucknow, Bengaluru and Delhi, which will host the semifinals and the final.

Hyderabad-leg schedule:

On Sunday: Hyderabad Hunters vs. Chennai Smashers, 7 p.m.; Followed by Bengaluru Blasters vs. Delhi Acers.

Monday: Hunters vs. Warriors.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 8:06:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/An-exciting-fare-on-the-cards/article16970159.ece

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