PV Sindhu to take on Gayatri in PBL kick-off clash

Chennai: World Champion PV Sindhu will take on rising star Gayatri Gopichand in the fifth season of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) which kicks off at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium on January 20.

In the opening encounter, Hyderabad Hunters will lock horns with Chennai Superstarz. With the league returning to Chennai after two years, excitement will be high as top-class badminton action will continue here till January 24.

This will be the second consecutive season with Hyderabad Hunters for the Rio Olympic silver medallist, who led the Chennai franchise to title glory in the second season. With Chennai’s Kirsty Gilmour playing at the Thailand Masters, this will be a priceless opportunity for the 16-year-old debutante Gopichand to hone her skills and gain confidence in front of home fans.

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“I have fond memories of winning the title for the Chennai franchise in the second season here. I thoroughly enjoy the love and support every time I play here. I am excited for the new season and I hope people will come and watch us play,” said the Hyderabad Hunters star.

The fifth season of the world’s most popular badminton league, organized by Sportzlive held under the aegis of Badminton Association of India (BAI), will see a lot of promising talent taking the court.

Lakshya Sen, who won a staggering five titles in 2019, headlines the men’s singles department in Chennai Superstarz along with the youngest player in PBL season five, S. Sankar Muthusamy and K. Sathish Kumar. Former World Championships bronze medallist Tommy Sugiarto, who was the MVP in the first season of PBL, will be another key attraction in the Chennai squad.

“I made my PBL debut last season and this time I hope to win ties for Chennai Superstarz. I am really looking forward to the new season,” said Lakshya Sen.

The Chennai crowd will also get to witness the fiery smashing skills of one half of India’s No. 1 men’s doubles team, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who is donning the Chennai jersey this time. With veteran Sumeeth Reddy being in the team along with upcoming talent Dhruv Kapila, the men’s doubles side in Chennai looks robust.

For the former champions Hyderabad Hunters, Vietnam Open and Hyderabad Open winner Sourabh Verma will look to bring his sterling form from last year. Along with Malaysia’s former world number ten Daren Liew and India’s rising star Kiran George, the Hunters will be ready for the challenge.

Former All England Open champion Vladimir Ivanov and the world number 32 pair of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy have the skills and experience to deliver a memorable performance for the Hunters. They will also benefit from the presence of Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Sikki Reddy in mixed doubles while world number 26 Jessica Pugh and India’s Sanjana Santosh will represent Chennai.

Seven teams – Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Raptors, Mumbai Rockets, Hyderabad Hunters, Chennai Superstarz, North Eastern Warriors and Pune 7 Aces — will slug it out for a prize of Rs 6 crore.

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