An array of top stars, including Olympic and World Champion Carolina Marin of Spain and India’s Rio Olympics silver medalist P.V. Sindhu are all set to slug it out in Season-4 of slug it out in Season-4 of the Premier Badminton League that begins here on Saturday. The other top international stars who will be seen in action in the nineteen PBL featuring 90 players from 17 countries in all, which is set to conclude in Bengaluru on January 13, are Dane Viktor Axelsen, Lee Yong Dae of Korea and Indians K. Srikanth, H.S, Pranoy, and Saina Nehwal.
Pune 7 Aces, spearheaded by Marin, is the new franchise team in the league that will see eight Olympic Pune and Ahmedabad, which will be hosting matches for the first time.
The nine teams _ Delhi Dashers, Ahmedabad Smash Masters, Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Raptors, Mumbai Rockets, Chennai Smashes, North Eastern Warriors and debutantes Pune 7 Aces _ would be slugging it out for a total prize fund of Rs6 crore.
The winners will take home Rs3 crore, the runners-up Rs1.5 crore and the third and fourth placers Rs75 lakh each. The inaugural round is being held here at the NSCI indoor stadium in Worli up to December 24 while the semifinals and final would be held in Bengaluru.
“I will be playing for Hyderabad Hunters in PBL-4 and I hope I do well as well as the team,” said Sindhu, who bagged her first major women’s singles title in the year-ending BWF World Tour finals earlier this month, on Friday.
“PBL having top players in all seasons is not a joke. It’s very good for Indian badminton. This time I am with the (North Eastern) Warriors. I hope we go all out (for the title),” said Saina said.
Saina will be playing her first tournament after her marriage with fellow shuttler Parupalli Kashyap, who will turn out for Chennai Smashers. “I am looking forward to the PBL. I am with a new team_ Pune. I will try my beat, ” said Pune captain Marin.
Marin’s clash with Sindhu here would set the tone for the league. The league debutantes have a strong team with Marin, Asian junior boys’ champion Lakshya Sen, doubles specialist Mathias Boe, Ajay Jayaram, and Prajakta Sawant, among others.
The League will also have a strong Chinese flavor as three players from China along with a host of Indian juniors will be playing in the PBL for the first time.
Venues: Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Bengaluru
Dates: December 22, 2018, to January 13, 2019
Total Players in League 90
Total Nations Represented: 17
Total Indian Players: 45
Top 10 Players:8
Top 20 Players:20