Chennai, Jan 18 : The world’s best badminton players on Saturday descended here for the fifth season of Star Sports Premier Badminton League, scheduled to be played from January 20 to February 9. Indian shuttlers B Sai Praneeth, Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy were present along with Olympic silver medallist Christinna Pedersen, former World No 9 Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and PBL5’s youngest player 15-year-old S Sankar Muthusamy at the official trophy unveiling here.
The 21-day event is set to be played in three venues – Chennai, Lucknow and Hyderabad. ''This league has played a major role in making badminton even more popular and has taken the sport to greater heights. We hope to play some amazing matches over the next few days here in Chennai and we hope the fans will enjoy it once again,” said defending champions Bengaluru Raptors' Sai Praneeth.
Olympic silver medallist Christinna Pedersen will be making her comeback to the league with the Awadhe Warriors. The Danish doubles star, who has multiple World Championships medals to her name, will be making her PBL outing for the third time and is excited to return to India. ''India feels like second home. We, Danish players, always look forward to coming back to PBL, which, I believe is the world’s strongest league.
All the teams this time look pretty strong and I am looking forward to playing some exciting matches in the next few days, '' said the Danish shuttle queen, who has reached the pinnacle of world rankings in mixed doubles. Lakshya and Satwik, who will be part of Chennai Superstarz, believe the league will provide platform to improve their game and the much-needed exposure to young shuttlers. Doubles star Rankireddy added that PBL will also help to give a lot of match play with elite shuttlers which will be crucial with the Tokyo Olympics coming up later in the year.
The fifth season of the PBL, which is organised by Sportzlive under the aegis of Badminton Association of India (BAI), is being headlined by world champion PV Sindhu and former World No 1 Tai Tzu Ying as five Olympic medallists and 15 World Championships medallists will look to mesmerize fans with their top skills.
Tanongsak, who has fond memories of guiding the Chennai franchise to the title in the second season, will be the men’s singles mainstay for the North Eastern Warriors for a second consecutive season. With a robust line-up, the Thai star is looking forward to a confident show from his team. Seven teams – Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Raptors, Mumbai Rockets, Hyderabad Hunters, Chennai Superstarz, North Eastern Warriors and Pune 7 Aces -- will slug it out for a prize of Rs 6 crore. (UNI)