Badminton World No. 2 and Olympic champion Carolina Marin will not miss the Premier Badminton League (PBL), which will be held from January 1-14, for anything. And it has got something to do with a lady named PV Sindhu.
Marin beat PV Sindhu in the Rio Olympics final in August to win gold. Marin remembers the match, during which the Indian had stretched the Spanish champion. Marin can’t wait to take on Sindhu again, this time at the Indian’s backyard.
Marin, who had been picked up by Hyderabad Hunters for Rs 61.5 lakh, is expected to face PV Sindhu, India’s highest ranked player now, in what would be the marquee match of the tournament. Sindhu plays for Chennai Smashers in PBL-2.
The Marin vs Sindhu match-up will throw up an interesting dilemma for the fans. The question is who will the Hyderabad crowd support — their home-grown champion, Sindhu, or Marin, who will be playing her heart out for the city franchise.
What the fans can be assured of is an electrifying contest like the one we saw in Rio.
“The final at Rio was a tight contest,” recalled Marin. “Sindhu is a good attacking player. I look forward to playing her again. I am sure it will be interesting,” added Marin said through a video link during a press conference on Friday, launching the second edition of the league.
“It’s a pleasure to be associated with the PBL. It’s a very exciting tournament and we have a very strong team in the Hunters. I believe we can go all the way and win the tournament, and surely,” added Marin. “I am looking forward to my stay in Hyderabad. I hear that fans in india turn up in huge numbers. I am excited about the event that awaits me.”
Sindhu brought a smile to Marin’s face by not only welcoming her to India, but also to her home to enjoy Hyderabad’s most famous dish: the biryani. “I am sure she will enjoy her stint in India. I would like her to come home to relish home-made biryani,” added Sindhu.
Marin, who is seen as a complete player, believes that the format of the PBL as well the matches (best of three games with each game fought over just 11 points) are going to add to the overall excitement.
“It is going to be a very tough format. As each game is only for 11 points, we will have to focus on each point. And, this will surely change everyone’s strategies and the way they approach the game,” Marin said.
India’s top players, led by Sindhu, B. Sumeeth Reddy (Chennai Smashers), Kidambi Srikanth (Awadhe Warriors), Syril Verma (Delhi Acers) Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma (Hyderabad Hunters), Saurabh Verma (Bengaluru Blasters), along with pool of junior players who were present at the press conference also said that the format is going to add to the thrill factor.
“The shorter format of the game will mean that you can’t give away leads of four or five points,” Sindhu said. “It will be very difficult to come back into a game then.”
The two-week long league will be held from January 1-14 across six cities, with Hyderabad hosting the first set of matches and New Delhi the finals. All the top players from India have been picked up by the teams, with as much as Rs 50 lakh being paid for some of them.