The two debutants of the PBL 2017-18, Ahmadabad Smash Masters and North Eastern Warriors, will take on each other at the Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Stadium in Guwahati today. While this is the campaign opener for the Ahmadabad team, North Eastern Warriors have already lost a tie to Hyderabad Hunters.
Despite being one of the debutants of the year, the Ahmadabad-based franchise has a very good composition of players in their team and that tells a story about why they are one of the favorites for the biggest prize of the season. India’s HS Prannoy and the women’s singles World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying are certainly the two big names in the team and will play a key role in Ahmedabad’s PBL campaign. But, the team from Gujarat will be tested to the limit by the team from the talent-rich north-eastern terrains of the country. The North Eastern Warriors team has been coached by former Indian badminton star Nikhil Kanetkar and will be spearheaded by the World No. 11 Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei.
HS Prannoy vs Wang Tzu Wei
The Smash Masters think-tank broke the bank to get Prannoy on board, spending a whopping amount of Rs. 62 lakhs which made him PBL3’s costliest buy. And rightly so, when Prannoy gets going, he doesn’t care about the form and can blow any reputation to smithereens. He might lack a Superseries title to his name, but his attacking game helped him remain unbeaten in the last edition of the PBL. Last year, the Hyderabadi registered wins over Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long on his way to his first Superseries semi-final at the Indonesia Open. Today, he may be up against World No. 11 Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei, who has made the finals of the German Open, the Chinese Taipei Open, and the New Zealand Open this year.
Sourabh Verma vs Ajay Jayaram
Although an ankle injury cost Saurabh a couple of months towards the end of the BWF season, the former national champion will be the best option for the team for the second Men’s singles match. However, Jayaram whose season has also been ravaged by injuries will be looking forward to
Tai Tzu Ying vs Michelle Li
Ahmadabad successfully managed to secure the services of the most successful player of the year, Tai Tzu Ying, who won a mind-boggling five Superseries titles in 2017, besides the Badminton Asia Championships. The Chinese Taipei shuttler is likely to lock horns with Peru International Challenge champion Michelle Li who entered the finals at the US Open and the Dutch Open. The match is sure to be a Trump match for the Ahmadabad
Law Cheuk Him/Lee Chun Hei Reginald vs Kim Gi Jung/Shin Baek Cheol
North Eastern Warriors may put a Trump on their Korean duo. Shin Baek Cheol is a professional double expert and has vast experience under his belt reaching a career-high 3rd in men’s doubles and 8th in mixed doubles. His partner, Kim Gi Jung has also been exceptional lately and was ranked as high as No. 2 in 2016. The Korean has a World Championships bronze, an Asian Championships gold and forms a lethal pair with his compatriot. On the other hand, Ahmadabad team lacks experience in their doubles department and has the Hong Kong pair of Law Cheuk Him and Lee Chun Hei Reginald. Although the duo didn’t have the best of the season so far, they have been partners for years now and can give the Korean duo a run for their money.
Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Stefani Stoeva vs Shin Baek Cheol/Prajakta Sawant
Women’s doubles World No. 12 Stefani Stoeva teamed up with her sister Gabriela Stoeva to make it to the final of the European Championships and the Swiss Open. Although Stoeva does not play mixed doubles on a regular basis anymore, she has enough experience of doubles to dominate the match. For the match, she will be teamed up with Kamilla Rytter Juhl, one of the finest doubles players of all-time. The duo will take on the North-Eastern pair of Shin Baek Cheol and Prajakta Sawant, who is currently ranked 43rd in the mixed doubles.
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