The 2013 inaugural edition of Indian Badminton League was rechristened as Premier Badminton League from 2016 onwards. Managed by Badminton Association of India, the 2016 season turned out to be highly successful and the new season is about to begin. With player auctions already completed in second week of November, the 2017 season gets underway on New Year Day in less than 3 weeks’ time. Just as last year, six teams will vie for the championship honor. However for global sports fans, the most awaited game will be the one featuring world no.1 Carolina Marin and India’s PV Sindhu. The two women last met as finalists in Rio Olympic Gold Medal match and Marin beat Sindhu to clinch the gold. Sindhu will, therefore, be itching to reverse that. The Olympic silver winner is representing Chennai Smashers and everyone is keenly awaiting Chennai’s match with Hyderabad Hunters. It is the Hunters, who have been able to rope Carolina Marin by paying the highest price during the auction. Besides Hyderabad Hunters and Chennai Smashers, this season also has last year’s winners Delhi Acres, Runners-up Mumbai Rockets, Bengaluru Blasters and Saina Nehwal led Awadhe Warriors.
After player auctions in November 9, 2016, the composition of teams for 2017 edition of Indian Premier League has been finalized. World no.1 and Olympic gold medal winner Carolina Marin of Spain commanded the highest bid to become Hyderabad Hunters’ star acquisition at 6.15 million Indian rupees. Besides Marin, other members of the Hunters are; England’s Rajiv Ouseph, India’s Sai Praneeth, Sameer Verma, Satwik Sairaj, Meghana Jakkampudi and Krishna Priya, Malaysia’s Tan Boong Heong and Wee Kiong Tan and China’s Chau Hoi Wah. Chennai Smashers have PV Sindhu, who was truly unlucky to fetch just 3.9 million rupees. Sindhu’s team consists of Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto, Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, England’s Chris and Gabrielle Adcock, Denmark’s Mads Pieler Kolding, India’s Parupalli Kashyap, Arundhati Pantawane, Sumeeth Reddy and Ramya Tulasi.
Last year’s champions Delhi Acres have Denmark’s Jan o Jorgensen, who was bought for 5.9 million rupees, Malaysian Nithchaon Jindapol, two Russians Ivan Sozonov and Vladimir Ivanov, Korean Son Wan Ho and Indians Jwala Gutta, Akshay Dewalkar, Maneesha Kukkapalli, Akarshi Kashyap and Siril Verma. Mumbai Rockets have India’s Ajay Jayaram, HS Prannoy, Manu Atri, Abhishek Yelegar, Vrushali Gummadi, Mohita Sehdev and Shreyansh Jaiswal; Koreans Sung Ji Hyun and Lee Yong Dae, Thailand’s Nipitphon Phusnhphupet and Poland’s Nadiezda Zieba. Bengaluru Blasters are packed with Viktor Axelsen acquired for 3.9 million rupees, Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana and Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, Koreans Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong and India’s Ashwini Ponnappa, Ruthvika Gadde, Sourabh Verma, Pranaav Chopra and Sikki Reddy.
The sixth team Awadhe Warriors has Saina Nehwal, who could only fetch 3.3 million rupees and Kidambi Srikanth who was bought for 5.1 million rupees. Besides Saina and Srikanth, other Indians in Awadhe team are; Rituparna Das, Prajakta Sawant and Aditya Joshi. Foreign recruits of Awadhe warriors include; Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent, Thailand’s Savitree Amitrapai and Bodin Isara, Malaysia’s V Shem Goh and Indonesia’s Markis Kido.
The star-studded tournament may not be a BWF event but it has got some of the world’s best players in all categories. From this year, PBL is experimenting with a three-game 11-point format; instead of the existing 21 points matches spread over three games. Last year, PBL tweaked with the 15-point format that existed globally before the existing 21-point format but they have changed it this season. As per reliable reports, this has been done at the instance of the broadcaster Star Television, who had insisted on finishing all games in a match under 2½ hours. The BWF has long been contemplating about using the 11-point format spread over five games but since the PBL event is not covered by BWF, the tournament organizers are more intent on speeding up the proceedings to meet the broadcaster’s demand. Players like Saina, Sindhu, Srikanth and some others have welcomed the format. The only difference between the PBL’s 2017 format and BWF proposal are two games. BWF wants to introduce 11-point format globally in the best-of-five games basis, whereas PBL has succumbed to the broadcaster’s wishes to cut the matches to three games in the 11-point format. Officially, the proposal of introducing the 11-point 5-game format will come up for discussions in the BWF congress in May 2017 but PBL has already adopted an even shorter version. Top players like Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and China’s Lin Dan have suggested that they might stick around till the end of 2020 Tokyo Olympics if the new scoring system was introduced by the Badminton World Federation.