It started with apprehension, with the auction date being postponed more than once. From dissent about base prices being slashed to the trophy being ‘unveiled’ twice on Tuesday, the drama has set the stage for the Indian Badminton League to kick off from Wednesday.
Promoted as a million-dollar first-of-a-kind league among six city franchises, fans across the country will be treated to 18 days of action.
A bright spot for many players is that initial payments have been made. According to sources, the Delhi Smashers made initial payments to domestic players on Monday. “I received my initial payment on Monday. It’s the first time something of this magnitude is taking place and my priority is the game,” said Jwala Gutta.
Pune icon player Ashwini Ponnappa is ready to look ahead. “No use brooding over the past. We are all eagerly waiting for the league to start,” she said.
The Pune Pistons’ foreign players are reportedly yet to receive 25% they were slated to get after the contract was signed.
“The delay is due to an issue with foreign currency, which is usually the case. Once it is sorted out, all the players will be paid,” said an IBL official.
Mumbai Masters, led by Lee Chong Wei, will start off against the Banga Beats on Thursday. “All the players have been paid,” said co-owner V Chamundeshwarnath.
There were hiccups in payment to the Bangalore team, but it was sorted out on Tuesday. “We could not pay them through cheque, but the money has been wired,” said Vijay Lancy, Banga Beats CEO.
Saina Nehwal, Ashwini Ponappa, PV Sindhu and Jwala Gutta at the unveiling of the IBL trophy. PTI
Gearing up for the big smash
HT analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the six teams that will participate in the inaugural million-dollar badminton league that begins on Wednesday.
Home stadium: DDA Badminton & Squash Stadium, New Delhi
Squad: Jwala Gutta, Daren Liew (Mas), HS Prannoy, Sai Praneeth, Arundhati Pantawane, Boon Heong Tan (Mas), Kien Keat Koo (Mas), V Diju, Nichaon Jindapon (Tha), Prajakta Sawant
Coach: Rashid Sidek
Strength: Their strength will be in doubles and mixed doubles. With the world No 2 men’s doubles pair of Boon Hoeng Tan and Kien Keat Koo in their ranks, they will be confident of doing well. They also have former mixed doubles partners in V Diju and Jwala Gutta, who did well when they played together on the international level.
Weakness: Lack of experience may hurt them in singles. B Sai Praneeth, HS Prannoy and Malaysian Daren Liew may not have the firepower.
Jwala Gutta of Delhi Smashers at the unveiling of the IBL trophy. HT Photo
Home stadium: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium (NSCI), Mumbai
Squad: Lee Chong Wei (Mas), Marc Zwiebler (Ger), Tine Baun (Den), Vladimir Ivanov (Rus), Pranav Chopra, Manu Attri, N Siki Reddy, PC Thulasi, Rasika Raje, Sumeet Reddy
Coach: Tey Seu Bock
Strength: They will bank on their international stars — Lee Chong Wei, Tine Baun and Marc Zwiebler — to shoulder the responsibility in the singles matches.
Weakness: Their doubles players like Vladimir Ivanov and N Sikki Reddy will take time to gel.
Jwala Gutta, PV Sindhu, Ashwini Ponnappa, Saina Nehwal, Mathias Boe, Carsten Mogensen and Mark Zweibler. HT Photo
Home stadium: Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Pune
Squad: Ashwini Ponnappa, Saurabh Verma, Anup Sridhar, Juliane Schenk (Ger), Joachim Fischer (Den), Tien Minh Nguyen (Vie), Sanave Thomas, Arun Vishnu, Wee Kiong Tan (Mas), Rupesh Kumar, Revathi Devasthale
Coach: Nikhil Kanetkar
Strength: World No 7 Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam and world No 4 Juliane Schenk of Germany are their biggest assets.
Weakness: Apart from Wee Kiong Tan, currently world No. 10, there are no other big international names in men’s doubles.
Home stadium: Kanteerva Indoor Stadium, Bangalore
Squad: P Kashyap, Hu Yun (Hkg), Carolina Marin (Esp), Tzu Ying Tai (Tpe), Carsten Mogensen (Den), Akshay Dewalkar, Aparna Balan, Arvind Bhat, Aditya Prakash, J Meghana, Daniel Farid
Coach: Vimal Kumar
Strength: The Beats are strong in men’s singles. On their day, P Kashyap and Hu Yun can defeat any player in the world.
Weakness: Their women players. World No 8 Tzu Ying Tai and Spaniard Carolina Marin will have to prove themselves as dependable singles winners while Aparna Balan will be tested in mixed doubles.
Home stadium: Gachibowli Indoor Stadium, Hyderabad
Squad: Saina Nehwal, Taufik Hidayat (Ina), Ajay Jayaram, V Shem Goh (Mas), Tarun Kona, Pradnya Gadre, Khim Wah Lim (Mas), Tanongsak (Tha), Kanthi Visalakshi, Subhankar Dey, C Rahul Yadav
Coach: J Rajendra Kumar
Strength: With Saina, Taufik and Ajay in their line-up, they will bank on their singles stars to see them through. The most formidable team on paper, they can run through their opponents on any given day.
Weakness: Barring world No 17 men’s doubles pair of Lim Khim Wah and Goh V Shem, they lack firepower in the doubles department.
Home stadium: Babu Banarasi Das UP Badminton Academy, Lucknow
Squad: PV Sindhu, Wei Feng Chong (Mas), RMV Gurusaidutt, K Srikanth, Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha), Ruthvika Shivani, Markis Kido (Ina), Mathias Boe (Den), K Maneesha, K Nandagopal
Coach: Md Hafiz Hashim
Strength: Focus will be on PV Sindhu, especially after her exploits at the Worlds. Markis Kido and Mathias Boe form a formidable men’s doubles pair.
Weakness: Weng Fei Chong, Gurusaidutt and Srikanth aren’t exactly world-beaters.