Premier Badminton League: An uplifting experience!

The Premier Badminton League has been of immense help to up and coming Indian players in terms of exposure and learning new skills.

World champion P. V. Sindhu believes that the PBL is one of the best things to happen to Indian badminton.   -  K. Murali Kumar

The Premier Badminton League has been one of the most eagerly awaited sporting battles in the Indian calendar. And when the fifth edition ended on a high in Hyderabad with Bengaluru Raptors defending its title, it was yet another reminder of how much it means to the players, especially the Indians in terms of exposure and learning new skills. But how important was the 2020 edition in the context of the Tokyo Olympics later this year?

Mission Tokyo

“Ever since the first edition of the PBL I have felt that whenever I do well in it, it gives me a lot of confidence as I look ahead at the demanding season at the highest level,” says the 2019 World championship bronze medallist B. Sai Praneeth, captain of the victorious Raptors in the 2020 edition.

“The PBL is an important event given the kind of platform it provides, especially to the young talent. Look at the kind of feeling say a young player gets by even watching the big guns like Carolina Marin, Tai Tzu Ying train, leave alone rubbing shoulders if they are lucky to be their teammates,” he explains.

“Well, since some of the big names from China, Japan and Indonesia don’t figure in the PBL for different reasons, it doesn’t mean the value addition is diminished. For instance, in the 2020 edition, we had the great Tai Tzu in action. We all know what kind of a great she is and just imagine the kind of impact it would have had on the youngsters by merely watching her execute those stunning cross-court drops in the PBL from such close quarters,” he continues.

“Being one of the contenders for a slot in the men’s singles in the Indian team, I looked at the PBL as one of the best preparatory events,” he says.

“Ever since the first edition of the PBL I have felt that whenever I do well in it, it gives me a lot of confidence as I look ahead at the demanding season at the highest level,” says the 2019 World championship bronze medallist B. Sai Praneeth.   -  Nagara Gopal

 

Thumbs up from Sindhu

Even world champion P. V. Sindhu believes that the PBL is one of the best things to happen to Indian badminton.

“It ensures great rivalries like my own with Marin and Tai Tzu in this edition. And, I do believe the fans too enjoy these kinds of encounters,” she says.

“Yes, different coaches will be there and they come up with some views. These small, small things add up to your preparations,” she says.

“At the same time, we have to keep evolving and improving to stay at the top,” Sindhu added.

And, India’s premier women’s doubles shuttler, N. Sikki Reddy, who was Sindhu’s teammate in Hyderabad Hunters, says that the PBL has become such a huge hit is by itself a tribute to the very professional way in which it is conducted.

“Somehow, I love the atmosphere out there in the PBL. There is so much to learn while competing with the best. This is one league which provides the kind of stage where the normally reticent big guns of world badminton open up on many issues including analysing their games and how they love to spend time off the badminton courts,” she explains.

India’s chief national coach P. Gopi Chand believes that the PBL has given the Indian shuttlers a chance to watch the big players in action, share the dressing room with them and learn many things.

“The League has been good for many young players also and it is truly inspirational for them as they dream big,” he says.

India’s Chief National Coach Pullella Gopichand feels that the best part of the PBL is that it has enabled the Indians to play without any fear.   -  Nagara Gopal

 

Gopi feels that the best part of the League is that it has enabled the Indians to play without any fear and this augurs well for the sport here.

“Definitely, the PBL has been beneficial for Indian badminton as it also inspires many kids to take up the sport seriously,” he concluded. Doubles player Chirag Shetty says he is a lot more confident after the PBL stint with Hendra Setiawan.

“It has been such a fantastic experience and I feel I will be a much better doubles player in the days to come for he shared so many nuances of the art of playing doubles,” Chirag said, clearly impressed by the calm and composed Setiawan.

“Well, when you play with someone whom you have seen as a fan winning an Olympic gold, it is an amazing experience. This will go a long way in my preparations for the Tokyo Olympics (where Chirag should be partnering R. Satwik Sairaj),” he concluded.