The revamped Premier Badminton League (PBL), starting on Saturday with hosts Mumbai Rockets taking on the Saina Nehwal-led Awadhe Warriors, will experiment with a new concept - Trump Match - that's expected to keep the interest till the end of a tie. (Premier Badminton League Great Platform For Young Shuttlers to Learn, Says HS Prannoy)
The PBL, revived after a gap of two years following the inaugural Indian Badminton League in 2013, has brought in the new concept in which each of the competing teams will nominate one match in each tie as their 'Trump Card'. (Bollywood Pin-up Jacqueline Fernandez to Sizzle at Premier Badminton League Opening Ceremony)
A victory for the team that picked the particular game as its 'Trump' will provide it with one extra point but a defeat will set it back by a point, and the intrigue generated by this new concept would keep the ties alive till the end, according to national coach Pullela Gopichand. ('Trump Match' a Turning Point in Premier Badminton League: Saina Nehwal)
"It's a great addition to the league to ensure that the excitement remains till the end of the tie. Two teams can nominate the same match as Trump match. This ensures that the last two matches are also important in a tie," said Gopichand in the run-up to the league opener.
"Even a 3-0 lead is not sufficient to win as you still can lose the tie. Spectators' interest will be kept alive. It needs to be seen how the players react to the extra pressure. Some play better under pressure while others crack," he said.
World No.2 Saina, who commanded USD 100,000 at the auction, would be leading Awadhe Warriors' challenge against Mumbai Rockets who appear strong in men's singles with two top men shuttlers of the country - H.S. Prannoy and R.M.V. Gurusaidutt - leading their charge.
The hosts also have a strong men's doubles team in Denmark's Mathias Boe and Russia's Vladimir Ivanov.
"Over the last two years I have been playing really well, along with Gurusaidutt. We both are in good form. We are a pretty balanced outfit. We have really good doubles players too," said Prannoy, who hails from Kerala.
The Warriors would look counting on Sai Praneeth, Sourabh Verma and Tanomgsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand in the men's singles, apart from the undoubted skills and fighting spirit of London Olympics bronze medallist and World Championship silver medallist Saina.
The opening tie will be followed on January 3 by clashes between Hyderabad Hunters and Bengaluru Top Guns, to be followed by the evening encounter between the Rockets and Chennai Smashers.
The second leg of the tournament, after its two-day stint in Mumbai, is to be held in Lucknow on January 4, 5 and 6.