PBL 4 to start with high octane encounter

Chennai: Reigning Olympic and World champion Carolina Marin could be the ace that actress-turned-owner Tapsee Pannu will be relying on to give the kind of kick-start that Pune 7 Aces would need when it opens the campaign against Hyderabad Hunters in the fourth edition of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League (PBL), beginning on 22 December.

The fourth season of PBL, organised by Sportzlive under the aegis of Badminton Association of India (BAI), will begin its journey from Mumbai.

‘We have a new team in Pune 7 Aces and this season we will be playing in two new cities—Ahmedabad and Pune—keeping in mind BAI and PBL’s efforts to promote and take the game far and wide,’ said BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma.

For the left-hander Marin, it comes as a challenge which she will cherish as the Spaniard would be playing against the team that she has been a part until last season. That itself makes the opening contest a mouth-watering affair as she is expected to take on none other than PV Sindhu, an Indian icon.

‘I will be representing my own city and that makes this opening clash even more special. You can expect full-throated support from the Hunters which will prove to be our strength as we face Pune. I will look forward to play against Carolina and it will surely be match to remember,’ said Sindhu, talking on her singles contest against the Spaniard.

‘I am now part of a new team and yet another Indian city; you can expect me to give my hundred percent to Pune 7 Aces. As for the match against Sindhu, both of us will want to win our tie. My job is to play to the best of my ability and I will certainly do it,’ said the crafty left-hander.

The badminton extravaganza would witness 30 ties being played including seven double headers this season; each city will be hosting one double header though Pune and Ahmedabad will see two double headers this year.

The 23-day event will witness nine teams Delhi Dashers, Ahmedabad Smash Masters, Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Raptors, Mumbai Rockets, Hyderabad Hunters, Chennai Smashes, North Eastern Warriors and Pune 7 Aces slug it out for a prize purse of Rs 6 crore in five cities with the inaugural rounds being held in Mumbai, followed by Hyderabad Pune, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru

NT Bureau