PV Sindhu, Tai Tzu Ying set to thrill PBL5 opening leg

Harpal Singh Bedi

New Delhi, 7 January : Badminton buffs are in for a treat as World Champion PV Sindhu led Hyderabad Hunters take on Chennai Superstarz on January 20 in Chennai in the opener of the 5th Premier Badminton League (PBL) .

The fifth edition will see competition of the highest level as 5 Olympic medallists and 15 World Championships medallists will look to mesmerize fans with a Hyderabad clash between former Olympic champions Hendra Setiawan of Pune 7 Aces and Lee Yong Dae of North East Warriors being the top draw.

While PV Sindhu picked the high-voltage World Championships quarter-final match between her and fChinese Taipei’s former World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying as her best match of 2019, it will be a repeat of that marquee clash when the two meet each other on January 31. The much-awaited showdown comes in the third leg in Hyderabad when Sindhu’s Hunters lock horns with Tai’s Bengaluru Raptors. With the two representing the champion teams of the last two editions, there is no doubt that a highly exciting affair is on the cards.

I had a great time playing in PBL last time. The format of the league is very exciting, and that is why I like to play in the league. I am very excited to join the Bengaluru Raptors team for the PBL season 5. I hope lot of fans will come to the stadiums to watch the matches and my fans around the world will follow it on TV and online. I look forward to playing against all teams, especially against P V Sindhu.” said Tai Tzu.

Other attraction of this match will be Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Lakshya Sen from the Chennai franchise, both of whom had stellar seasons last year.

Organised by Sportzlive under the aegis of Badminton Association of India (BAI), PBL5 will be hosted by Chennai for the first five days of the league before it moves to Lucknow on January 25, followed by seven days of badminton extravaganza in Hyderabad while the semi-finals and the grand finale will be staged in Bangalore.

Seven teams – Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Raptors, Mumbai Rockets, Hyderabad Hunters, Chennai Superstarz, North Eastern Warriors and Pune 7 Aces will slug it out for a prize purse of Rs 6 crore in four cities this time.

The 21-day event will witness 24 ties being played, including three double headers, all of which are to take place in Hyderabad. With one of the double headers being scheduled in the weekend on February 1 that will see Pune 7 Aces take on North East Warriors and Awadhe Warriors clash with Chennai Superstarz, lots of thrilling matches are in store for badminton aficionados.

As the PBL returns to Chennai after two years, badminton lovers in the city would be blessed to watch Tai’s wizardry when the Raptors square off against the North East Warriors on January 21. With Chennai Superstarz and Bengaluru Raptors meeting in the same leg, it would be interesting to see Lakshya Sen and Sai Praneeth going head to head after their fabulous results last year.

Another marquee clash that has all the ingredients to be a blockbuster is the one between Sindhu and former India Open champion Beiwen Zhang when the Hunters and Awadhe Warriors take on each other on Republic Day in Lucknow. After the enthralling final the two played at the India Open in 2018, where Zhang saved match points to deny Sindhu the title, this match is not to be missed.

2014 Commonwealth Games champion and 2019 Canada Open finalist Parupalli Kashyap will be leading the charge of two-time runners-up Mumbai Rockets when they lock horns with Sai Praneeth’s Bengaluru Raptors in Hyderabad on February 2, enabling fans to see an exhilarating match between two of India’s best men’s singles shuttlers.

“With major chunk of the matches being played in south of India in the fifth edition of PBL, we are really looking forward to great crowd turnout and huge support as badminton is a very popular sport in this part of the country,” said Prasad Mangipudi, Executive Director, SportzLive.

“With badminton being a sport whose biggest events are primarily played abroad, PBL gives Indian badminton lovers a unique opportunity to see their favourite stars perform live in front of them. In an Olympic year, this season of PBL will definitely be a bit more special not just for the players but for the fans as well,” said Atul Pande, Managing Director, SportzLive.