Yellow jersey. Roaring lion. Entities that Chennaiites have come to associate with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will now be a part of Chennai Smashers’ identity. “I’m a big fan of CSK. This, in a way is a tribute to the IPL Franchise. Also, it personifies aggression, a trait we would like to be known for on-court,” said Vijay Prabhakaran, proud owner of the city-based franchise in the Premier Badminton League, unveiling the team logo – a roaring lion with a shuttle in the backdrop. He added that the team name is an allusion to the badminton ‘smash’.
The team will feature ten players – four Indians and six foreigners. All the Indian players, P.V. Sindhu, Sikki Reddy, Pranaav Chopra and Sri Krishna Priya were formally introduced sporting the team jersey. Unfortunately, Vijay’s attempts to try and persuade Badminton Association of India (BAI) to include Chennai as one of the hosting venues didn’t materialise. “We tried our level best to get matches for Chennai. But apparently the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium is being used to stock up flood relief materials. We tried to get Coimbatore approved but none of the facility there boasted of a seating capacity large enough, which in turn lead to reservations in broadcasting,” he said. The Smashers will now play their home matches in Lucknow and Hyderabad.
Sindhu was one of the most sought-after in the player auction and according to Vijay, the Smashers’ top priority was to get her on board. Asked on whether it puts extra pressure on her to perform well, the 20-year old said, “I don’t think so. It’s a team event and the focus is on all players in the team. We will try and give our best.”
She said the home games in Hyderabad would make up for the inability to play in Chennai. “We are disappointed, of course. But I think we would have good crowd support in Hyderabad as well since most of us are from Hyderabad.”
Pranaav was of the opinion that the camaraderie between them – all of them know each other and have practiced together – would hold them in good stead. “We all are from the Gopichand Academy. We’ve known each other and practiced together for quite long now. That awareness would make for good team spirit.”