PBL: Awadhe hope for Saina’s participation in semis

Despite nursing an injured foot, Awadhe Warriors’ most prominent shuttler Saina Nehwal could play Mumbai Rockets in the semifinal of the Premier Badminton League championship at Gachibowli stadium here on Friday. She has missed the last two league games of the tournament due to her injury.

Saina Nehwal was ruled out of the last two matches in the ongoing PBL due to her foot injury.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Despite nursing an injured foot, Awadhe Warriors’ most prominent shuttler Saina Nehwal could play Mumbai Rockets in the semifinal of the Premier Badminton League championship at Gachibowli stadium here on Friday.

A senior official of the team informed that though Saina is expected to have another training session tomorrow before taking a final call, her body language suggests that she is very keen to play this crucial game having missed out the last two league games against Hyderabad Hunters and Chennai Smashers here.

The London Olympics bronze medallist did have a light training session with her teammates at the Gopi Academy in the morning and then strengthening session in the evening today. Saina did not figure in the line-up against Chennai Smashers in the last league match when the much-awaited clash against P. V. Sindhu did not take place, but she could be in the starting line-up given the importance of this match. If Saina pulls out at the last minute to rest her foot as she had done thrice in this edition of PBL so far, then G. Vrushali will play in the women’s singles in her place.

Praneeth hopes to finish in style

Among other members of the team, B. Sai Praneeth, who downed his training partner and the more experienced Parupalli Kashyap of Hyderabad Hunters and then Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Chennai Smashers in the league matches here, is on a high. “I have done well so far and want to finish off at home in style,” said the Warriors key men’s singles player.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Rockets had a full length training session in the evening. Coach Ram Nayyar says they are more focussed on their strong points than on thinking who will figure in the opposition line-up. “Yes, the 0-5 loss against Delhi Acers in the last league game (in Bengaluru) was disappointing and can happen to any team. But, it is time to put behind that and look ahead having made it to the knock-out phase. The key is [to be] focussed out there on the court tomorrow,” he pointed out.

“Our doubles teams look solid. Even in men’s singles we have very good players in H.S. Prannoy and Guru Sai Dutt who are capable of upsetting the best on their day. We are very confident of a good show from these two also,” the Rockets coach remarked. “The mood is upbeat and all we are looking for is one good performance tomorrow to move into the final,” he concluded.