Two new teams added in Premier Badminton League

Joining the fold this season will be an Ahmedabad and a Guwahati-based side, better known as Ahmedabad Smash Masters and Northeastern Warriors.

Team Owners at the event launch alongside national coach Pullela Gopichand. Photo: PBL   -  PBL

Sporting extravaganza continues to sweep the nation as the third season of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) was launched with two new teams added to the fold in Chennai on Wednesday.

Joining the fold this season will be an Ahmedabad and a Guwahati-based side, which will come to be known as Ahmedabad Smash Masters and Northeastern Warriors, respectively.

The PBL - 3 launch event was overseen by the team owners with the exception of Bengaluru Bulls. Former Indian Badminton ace and current national team coach Pullela Gopichand was also present.

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Sportzlive, the license holder of the league, claimed it was in talks to bring in more top players from around the world before the start of the tournament. Much like the last edition in January 2017, each side will be allowed to have a squad of 10 shuttlers – which will include one icon player and five foreign players.

Fair for all

A closed auction is scheduled to take place between September 15 and 16. On the draft, “we will be allowing the existing teams to retain 2-3 players with the others going into the draft. We will also be looking to get in new players so that all eight teams have an equal chance of acquiring good enough players,” said Prasad Mangipudi, the executive director of Sportzlive.

Vijay Prabhakar, the team owner of the defending champion Chennai Smashers, was immediate in his response as to who the side will retain for its title defence. “P. V. Sindhu, definitely, and Chris Adcock. Chris is very loyal and faithful to Chennai. Each time he leaves India he said ‘Please don’t leave me’. He also fights for us right until the end,” said Prabhakar.

Chennai in the fray

He was also “hopeful” of bringing the PBL caravan to the city of Chennai for the first time since the inception of the league with the support of Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT).

Gopichand, who has been instrumental in making sure the tournament has the best facility in place, too, echoed similar sentiments. He also added that the league will do away with double headers for PBL 3.

The tournament is scheduled to run from December 22 to January 14. The fixtures will be announced at a later date and the league has zeroed in on Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore as its venues. It appeared that Delhi may not be sought for as a venue but there was no confirmation on the same.

The format of the league will remain the same from the previous edition with each tie consisting of five matches including the trump match.