As has been its promotional cry, the Premier Badminton League (PBL) has got bigger and better with every passing year.
With the addition of two new cities in Guwahati and Ahmedabad, few more top-ranked players in the fray and an increased prize money, it is not surprising that players are looking forward to the event scheduled to be held in eight cities between December 23 and January 14.
Speaking at an event to promote PBL here on Sunday, Kidambi Srikanth said the League will definitely inspire and motivate the younger Indian players. “The league has grown in terms of level of players. Good to have such top players show interest (in PBL).
“Last year too, we had good players. More than anything else, it will help young players see their idols, and it will be an inspiration for them to take up the sport.”
When asked whether he prefers to experiment in trying out new strokes in the league, the World No.4 said being a team game there will be pressure as being a top player a lot will depend on him. “PBL is something where you play without much pressure. Still there will be a whole team cheering for you, and you don’t really experiment as you have to win. [In PBL], I play the first singles, so it is important to give the team a good start. Can‘t really experiment,” said Srikanth, who will be representing Awadhe Warriors.
Representing the defending champion Chennai Smashers, World No. 3 P. V. Sindhu said playing on home courts for the first time will be exciting. “It’s good that many more fans will be supporting us. This time playing on home courts there would be lot more cheering. Chennai is ‘mass’,” she said.
And with new teams adding up and the inclusion of World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying, according to Sindhu, the event will be great to watch. And moreover, it will be a good exposure for juniors to see top players, who are world champions and Olympic medallists, she said.
Viktor Axelsen, the reigning world champion and World No.1, said he is looking forward to PBL. “Always exciting to play at different cities,” said the 23-year-old Dane, who will be playing for Bengaluru Blasters.
Axelsen voices his disapproval to BWF proposal
With the Badminton World Federation making it mandatory in 2018 for the top 15 players in singles and top 10 in doubles to play in a minimum of 12 tournaments a year, Axelsen has voiced his opposition to the proposal, saying BWF's move will tire out players.
The defending world champion said: "I liked the old schedule. We can be better players if we play in fewer tournaments and have more time to prepare. But that's not what BWF is doing. There is nothing that you can do about it. Making us play 12 tournaments and all the team stuff is pretty stressful and personally, I would have liked it to be different. We haven't really addressed the issue to the world body. But we have a players association and we discuss things. But nothing has changed and in the end, they take the decisions," he said.
(The writer is on the invitation of Sportzlive, official licensee holder of PBL).