Top stars Saina Nehwal and Lee Chong Wei were the costliest buys, fetching the maximum prize of $100,000, while Indian shuttlers P.V. Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth were bought for a whopping $95,000 and $80,000 respectively at the rechristened Premier badminton League (PBL) players’ auction in New Delhi on Monday.
World No. 2 Saina and former World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei were bought by Awadh Warriors of Lucknow and Hyderabad Hunters in a last-minute pre-auction bidding last night even though their names were mentioned in the players list which went under the hammer on Monday.
Two-time bronze medallist at the World Championship and winner of Macau Open, Sindhu found herself in the middle of an aggressive bidding on Monday among Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and she was finally bought by Vijakant son Shanmugapandian owned Chennai Smashers for $95,000.
Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, who is recovering from an injury, went to Hyderabad for $35,000, doubles player B. Sumeeth Reddy went at his base price of $25,000 to Bengaluru, while his men’s doubles partner Manu Attri was bought by Mumbai Rockets.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games champion Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, however, went for their base price of $25,000 to their homes cities — Hyderabad and Bengaluru, while HS Prannoy fetched $ 47,000 from Mumbai franchise, owned by Devyani Leisures Pvt. Ltd.
Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov was bought by Mumbai Rockets for $42,000, England’s Rajiv Ouseph and Indonesia Masters champion Tommy Sugiarto were taken by Delhi Acers for $36,000 and $74,000 respectively during the auction which started after a two hour delay.
Saina and Lee Chong Wei were not part of the auction on Monday as they were sold in a closed-door auction in which five franchises bid $100,000 — the maximum permissible amount — for the Indian superstar. The decision was reached through a lottery as part of the new PBL rules.
Mumbai and Hyderabad wanted to buy Lee Chong Wei and both bid the maximum again but after a draw of lots, the Malaysian went to Hyderabad, owned by Agile Security Force Pvt. Ltd.
BAI had organised Indian Badminton League in 2013 but thereafter for two years — 2014 and 2015 — the League did not take place.
The lucrative tournament, now known as PBL, will kick-start on January 2 in Mumbai with an extravagant opening ceremony and the grand finale will take place here on January 17.