Following two weeks of top quality action, the Premier Badminton League (PBL) has reached its finale which will see the Delhi Acers take on the Mumbai Rockets in the final at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi on Sunday.
Both the teams do not have top stars like the Saina Nehwals and Lee Chong Weis but what worked in their favour is that they have well balanced sides.
Acers have had a tremendous comeback from their losses in the opening two matches of the six-side tournament. They fought back well to not just win three consecutive league ties and also the semi-final but are also the only team to win five points from a tie, a feat they achieved twice.
The other finalist, the Rockets have had a topsy-turvy series -- winning three and losing two ties in the league phase before coming out victorious 3-0 against the Saina Nehwal-led Awadhe Warriors in the second semi-final on Friday night.
The one and only time the two outfits faced each other was on Wednesday in Bengaluru when Acers thrashed the Rockets 5-0 to cement their place atop the points table of the league.
The Mumbai-based team came out of that disastrous loss with a strong performance against Warriors in the semi-final to gain some confidence ahead of the all important clash.
Looking at the bench strength, Acers excel when it comes to their men’s singles department. In the entire tournament, Acers lost only one match in the category in 12 outings. The trio of Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto, England’s Rajiv Ouseph and India’s Ajay Jayaram have taken the burden of winning two to three points in almost every clash.
Sugiarto is the only player in the entire tournament to have played and won all his five outings. Plus, they have also not lost even a single Trump Match which has been crucial to their success.
On the other hand, players like Vladimir Ivanov and Mathias Boe have been the heroes for the Rockets. The Rockets did well apart from their embarrassing loss to Acers.
Ivanov and Boe have come out well whenever the Mumbai-based team have needed them and they have been assisted well by Kamilla Rytter Juhl.
Rising Indian players H.S. Prannoy and R.M.V. Gurusaidutt have also been reliable when it comes to the men’s singles matches and who can forget Han Li. The Chinese girl’s unexpected and surprising win over Saina Nehwal in the semi-final was more or less the sole reason for their win in the tie.
The win over World No.2 Saina must have boosted her confidence and she will be a force to reckon with if the Mumbai team’s management decide to play her.
Acers, however, have an advantage of playing at home as the crowd will be rooting for them. The Rockets will be looking at silencing the crowds.
The crowds will also be eager to see their favourite Bollywood stars Akshay Kumar, Abhishek Bachchan and Riteish Deshmukh who will play an exhibition match during the closing ceremony, to be held before the final.