The fourth season of the Premier Badminton League is poised to start from tomorrow, December 22 with a 2016 Rio Olympic final rivalry between PV Sindhu and Carolina Marin.
The stakes will be high in the fourth edition of the competition, with Badminton loyalists being the ultimate beneficiaries. Over the next 25 days, the whole world will get to relish some of the most high profile players battling out against one another to claim bragging rights over the elusive title.
The only complain that the fans would probably have would be the fact that the reigning World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying is absent from the league this year.
PBL over the years
IPL brought with a renaissance in India’s private sports league scenario. Within a decade or so the country already had private leagues for Hockey, Football, Tennis, and even Kabaddi. Apart from commercially exploiting the sport, one of the most important impacts that these leagues targeted was that of providing a world-class platform for talented youngsters.
Premier Badminton League was formed somewhere on this exact principle. Although, when it was launched in 2013, it was known as the Indian Badminton League. The inaugural season was a 6 team affair (Delhi Smashers, Awadhe Warriors, Mumbai Marathas, Pune Pistons, Hyderabad Hypershots, Banga Beats) and was hosted by six respective cities. The season was highly competitive, with the table leaders Hyderabad just 4 points above the bottom team Banga Beats.
Riding on the form of local superstar and captain, Saina Nehwal, India’s badminton capital went all the way to win the first ever Indian Badminton League trophy.
However, even after some blockbuster ties between some of the biggest names in the badminton world, IBL failed to elicit as much of an interest as expected. As a result, it went into a 3-year sabbatical.
Things changed drastically in 2016 when PV Sindhu won India’s first ever silver in Badminton (while also becoming the first Indian women to achieve the feat) at the Rio Olympics. Her achievements were even more special since India had managed to win only two medals that year.
That event was a turning point in the fortunes of Badminton, with the nation perceiving it with renewed respect.
The second PBL season was announced in the following year, but with a new name – Premier Badminton League. The league was dominated by a selected few names like Tommy Sugiarto, Chris Addock, K Srikanth, and PV Sindhu among others. Sindhu went on to win the most valuable player of the league that year, with the shuttler helping her team Chennai Smashers to a third finish. The title was clinched by Delhi Dashers after beating HS Prannoy’s Mumbai Rockets by a close margin of 4-3.
The second season of Premier Badminton League commenced in January last year, bringing with it many more nail-biting clashes. It was PV Sindhu who was the woman of the moment in the season as well with the Olympic silver medalist helping her team Chennai Smashers to finish third in the league table. Chennai went on to trump 2106’s runner-ups Awadhe Warriors by a convincing margin of 4-1 before emerging victorious against Mumbai Rockets to win the title.
After two years of successful run, PBL returned back even stronger, with two new teams- Ahmedabad Smash Masters and North Eastern Warriors. The inauguration of the league was at the hands of old foes, PV Sindhu and Carolina Marin. It was the latter that got the better of her opponent, winning by three straight sets. However, the Spaniard’s dominance did not last for long as she went to on to lose both of her following encounters against Sung Ji Hyun of Korea.
Things turned ugly when Marin pulled out of her match against Tai Tzu Ying. Nonetheless, Carolin was elemental in steering Hyderabad Hunters to the top of the table, three points adrift Ahmedabad Smash Masters. The final was a one-sided affair, with Marin trumping Gilmour of Bengaluru Blasters in sets of 15-8, 15-14 to hand her team a 3-2 title-winning victory.
For the latest updates on Indian Sports, stay tuned with KreedOn.