Ahmedabad Smash Masters: Some smashing selections!

The novelty element of some of its players should be a major plus for Ahmedabad Smash Masters. Interestingly, this is also one of the very few teams to put a lot of faith in young talent.

H. S. Prannoy says that Ahmedabad Smash Masters is “a new team with big hopes.”   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

For Ahmedabad Smash Masters, a first-time entrant to the high-profile Premier Badminton League, the biggest name is the World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese-Taipei. There is also the World No. 10 in men’s singles, H. S. Prannoy, who was the most expensive player in the auction for the third edition.

The novelty element of some of its players should be a major plus for the franchise. Interestingly, this is also one of the very few teams to put a lot of faith in young talent if the inclusion of Siril Verma (men’s singles) and Sri Krishna Priya (women’s singles) is any hint.

Apart from Tai Tzu and Prannoy, Ahmedabad will also be looking to the Vermas, Sourabh and Siril, in the singles.

In doubles, the experienced K. Nandagopal, elder brother of the more famous K. Srikanth, will in all probability partner the 2017 World championship mixed doubles bronze medallist Lee Chun Hei Reginald of Hong Kong.

The players to watch are Tai Tzu and H. S. Prannoy.

Tai has won five Super Series titles in 2017 (before the Dubai BWF Super Series finals) including the All-England championship. She has great deception in her strokes. Tai can also change the pace of the game with long rallies to set herself up for those big smashes from seemingly difficult angles. She is also known for her wonderful backhand net game. And, she can really hit the shuttle hard — has recorded a smash of 360 kmph in the 2016 All-England championship.

A quality player on his day, the 25-year-old Prannoy is clearly in the form of his career though he has not won a Super Series title. But with wins over the likes of Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei and Olympic champion Chen Long before losing to practice partner K. Srikanth in the 2017 Indonesian Open, he will be a force to reckon with on his day.

Prannoy was the costliest in the entire auction going for Rs. 62 lakh (his price was Rs. 22 lakh for Mumbai Rockets in the previous edition).

Quote: “Yes, this is a new team but with big hopes. We have the perfect blend of experience, class and youth to be the team to beat in the coming edition.” — H. S. Prannoy.

Performance: Making its debut in PBL.