THE MOST ENDURING rivalry in Indian badminton will be on display once again on Saturday when global superstars PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal lock horns at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium and lend a blockbuster opening to the third edition of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League.
Sindhu, currently ranked No3 in the World, holds a 2-1 edge in her recent meetings against Saina, with her only loss coming in a riveting Senior National Championship finale held at Nagpur last month.
It is not just a personal battle of the two Indian girls as they would also be looking to guide their respective teams to glory in a highly-competitve league that also features the world's top players including men's World No1 Viktor Axlesson (Denmark) and women's No1 Tai Tzu Ying (Taiwan).
On the eve of the league opener, Sindhu underplayed her duel with Saina instead emphasising upon the stiff competition she would be up against in the next 23 days, "I'm looking forward to our opening match against Awadhe Warriors. It is not just my match against Saina, every match will be tough as there are some really strong teams out there. The competition is going to be really good," Sindhu said on Friday.
With World No1 in both men's and women's singles, eight 2017 World Championship medallists, nine Olympic medallists (inlcuding three multiple medal winners) competing in this edition, the league is easily the best among Olympic disciplines in the country.
The Vodafone Premier Badminton League is held under the aegis of the Badminton Association of India and is organised by Sportzlive, the official licensee partner of the league. It has already acquired the tag of being one of the richest badminton leagues with the teams battling for a total prize money of INR 6 crore.
Eight teams, including two new entrants Ahmedabad Smash Masters and North Eastern Warriors, will line up against each other in five cities beginning with Guwahati on Saturday. And, each team will have one junior player travelling with their respective team to get the exposure and learn from the world's best.
Every day there will be one battle between two teams comprising five maches -- men's and women's singles and doubles and mixed doubles. Each match will be a three-game affair of 15 points and played under the Rally Points Scoring System. If scores are tied 14-14, the team scoring the 15th poiint first will win that game.
The top four finishers will play the semifinals and finals to be held in Hyderabad.
Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, President of Badminton Association of India (BAI), believes the league will be a huge motivation for budding players, “With 40 of the world’s best players in action, many young players will be inspired to do well and take part in the league in future,” he said on Friday.Ã¢â¬Â¨
KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LEAGUE
· 8 current World Championship medalists
· 9 Olympic Medalists (including three multiple medal winners)
· World No. 1 in both Men's singles and Women's singles
· Prize Money: INR 6 Cr
· Duration of tournament: 23 days
· High footfall and stadium attendance Last year gate revenue was close to 1.4 cr.
SATURDAY’S FIXTURE: Chennai Smashers vs Awadhe Warriors
Chennai Smashers: Men's singles: Brice Leverdez (Fra), Aditya Joshi, Daniel Farid, Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Tha). Women's singles: PV Sindhu, Tanvi Lad. Men's doubles: Chris Adcock (GBR), Lee Yang (Kor), B Sumeeth Reddy. Women's doubles: Gabrielle Adcock (GBR). Coach – Arun Vishnu
Awadhe Warriors: Men's singles: Parupalli Kashyap, Kidambi Srikanth, Harshit Agarwal. Women's singles: Saina Nehwal, Sai Utterjitha Rao. Men's doubles: Hendra Setiawan (Idn), Chin Chung (Hkg), Tang Chung Man (Hkg). Women's doubles: Christina Pedersen (Den), Mahima Agarwal. Coach –Siyadath Ullah.Ã¢â¬Â¨
The matches will be telecast on Star Sports HD 1 and Star Sports 1 from 7 PM onwards and streamed live on Hot Star. Tickets will be available on BookmyShow.