The call to ‘’Smash the house down’’ was made at the launch of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League, in the presence of the top stars of the game like Olympic champion Carolina Marin and Saina Nehwal, in the Capital on Wednesday.
'I love to be with my Hunters team'
There may not be any change to the total prize purse of six crore rupees, with the champion taking half of it, but the third edition promises to be "bigger, meaner and stronger’’.
The league, scheduled to start in Guwahati on December 23, will have eight teams , two more than last year, and be spread over a three week period, as against a fortnight in the last edition.
The climax will be in Hyderabad which will hold the last two league matches, followed by the semifinals and final, to coincide with the Pongal or Makar Sankranti holidays.
World's best lining up
Even though the Chinese have minimal participation, the event will have no dearth of quality players, as it would boast of eight current World Championship medallists, nine Olympic medallists and 16 players
in the top-10 of world ranking.
It was announced that the league to be telecast ‘live’ every day from 7 p.m., has already been promoted in a big way, particularly in the digital media, with a budget of Rs.20 crore.
Some of the stars like Olympic and World Championship silver medallist PV Sindhu and the world No.1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, had their video messages.
'Hyderabad Hunters has a ‘perfect mix’ of players'
‘’Lot of good players are coming. We will have to play the best’’, said Sindhu.
‘’It will be very hard and very exciting. Hopeful that I can do my best’’, said Axelsen.
Of course, everyone echoed the sentiment that they were looking forward to it.
Pointing at the improved performances of the Indian players in recent times, Ajay Jayaram stressed that the Indian players would be competing at a ‘’whole new level’’.
Indian badminton in good health
Expressing happiness about the league growing in a big way, the secretary general of the Badminton Association of India (BAI), Anup Narang, said that it was the ‘’world’s biggest and best league’’.
Commending the fabulous growth of Indian badminton, which he pegged at 25% a year, based on the market study, the chairman of SportzLive, the marketing partner of the Badminton association, Atul Pandey said that Indian badminton with four players in the top-10 was at its best health.
‘’The aim is to make PBL on par with the World Championship or even bigger’’, said Pandey, as he spelt the growth of the league from 60 to 80 players and 23 matches spread over 28 days including the travel time.
Who went where in the 2017 PBL auction?
Each team will also have one under-17 player, with a chance to compete against the top players, which was felt to augur well for the future of the game in the country.
Each game will be best of three sets, with a sudden death point at 14-14. The top four teams from the league phase will qualify for the semifinals.
‘’It is amazing to see the top players and a lot of youngsters. I look forward to tough matches. Badminton is growing in India’’, said Saina Nehwal.
Carolina Marin of Spain who had beaten PV Sindhu in the Olympic final in Rio, said that she felt India to be her ‘’second home’’, and that she was impressed with the growth of Indian badminton.
‘’Last time when the PBL finished, friends and family said that they felt a void in the evening. It is good that it will last longer this time’’, said Ajay Jayaram.
The trophy was unveiled and the congregation of players posed with it, possibly as an appetiser ‘’to go all out’’ and grab it on January 14.