Axelsen: ‘It has been a tough and exciting PBL so far’

The world champion and Bengaluru Blasters’ star player believes the challenge for shuttlers is to get used to the 15-point format.

World champion and Bengaluru Blasters star player Viktor Axelsen (left) with Ashwini Ponnappa at a promotional event for PBL in Hyderabad on Tuesday.   -  K.V.S. GIRI

World champion and Bengaluru Blasters star player, Viktor Axelsen, says that his team is first targetting the semifinal berth in the third edition of the PBL as it enters the final-leg commencing at the Gachibowli Stadium here on Wednesday.

Speaking at a promotional event of the PBL here on Tuesday, Axelsen says that only after that objective is achieved they would think of the final.

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“So far, the campaign has been very good. Every player in the team is giving his or her best. This is something we will try to achieve in the final league match here against Hyderabad Hunters (on January 11),” Axelsen said.

“The biggest challenge, I believe it is for most of the players, is to get used to the 15-point format. It has been a very tough and exciting PBL so far. We should be hopefully make it to the semifinal,” he said.

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“Yes, the doubles combinations have been really putting up some wonderful displays in the PBL though it is always tough to form these pairs in such a format,” Axelsen said.

For her part, Delhi Dashers star doubles player Ashwini Ponnappa felt the start was not so good for her team but hopes it will pull it off in the crucial final league match against North-Eastern Warriors on Wednesday here and make it to the semifinal.

“We are not tense but eagerly looking forward to the big match tomorrow and hope to give off our best,” she said.

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“The best part of this PBL is that there are two more teams which means more players getting opportunities and also the event being held in different cities across the country. These two are the biggest positives of this PBL,” Ashwini said.

Ashwini also appealed to the PBL organisers to see that women’s doubles are also part of the format from next year onwards.

“The more you play the better it is for any player in any event be it singles or doubles,” she felt.

Warriors’ star campaigner Ajay Jayaram says his team too is ready for the big challenge. “Yes, for us too the start was a bit disappointing but now things seem to be falling in place. We hope to produce the kind of performances which should take us through to the next phase,” he said.

Hyderabad Hunters coach Fernando Rivas says the message was clear to the players — that the team was not as bad when it lost 0-5 or as good when it won 6-0. "We have to keep improving and give off our best in the crucial final-leg to realise the objective of reaching the knock-out and hopefully play the final in front of home crowd," he said.

Wednesday’s schedule: Delhi Dashers vs North-Eastern Warriors.

Thursday's match: Hyderabad Hunters vs Bengaluru Blasters.

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