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Premier Badminton League an eye opener on many counts

Premier Badminton League an eye opener on many counts
Highlights

The country’s best badminton contenders for medals and even berths at the Rio Olympics received a shot in the arm with the season-opener. The Premier Badminton League (PBL) has been an excellent preparatory outing for shuttlers, who are eyeing global glory in Rio.

The country’s best badminton contenders for medals and even berths at the Rio Olympics received a shot in the arm with the season-opener. The Premier Badminton League (PBL) has been an excellent preparatory outing for shuttlers, who are eyeing global glory in Rio. That it brought the Indians alongside and against some of the finest of contemporary players from across the globe should hold them in good stead in a particularly important year.

Irrespective of how one views the fortnight-long extravaganza, what becomes crystal clear is that they were able to take stock of their individual prowess vis a vis the competitiveness that exists. Unfortunately, the scene is not as rosy as it appears. For all the hype, the powerhouses were not around, although two-time world champion, Lee Chong Wei, did bring in the glamour quotient.

The fact of the matter is that having been relegated to five in world rankings, the Malaysian stalwart is trying to bounce back into top gear. Like most cricket discards take the IPL route for a comeback, Lee apparently has opted for the PBL to get a feel of the competition that lies ahead, at least from the second rung of contenders. Unfortunately, the ‘foreign’ colour was not as charismatic as one presumed. On that count, IPL is a bigger success because it brings in crowd pullers of the magnetic kind.

PBL, which replaced IBL after a two-year hiatus, began on a controversial note because it needed the intervention of the Supreme Court and its subsequent green signal. The six teams in contention boasted of overseas players but somehow the top attractions were Indians. On the conclusion of the extravaganza, it is time spearheads like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Parupally Kashyap go in for an honest soul-searching for the simple reason that none of them dished out performances that could have gladdened those betting big on them at Rio.

There is a possibility that there could be a controversy over Saina’s decision to skip two crucial matches for Awadhe Warriors in her backyard at Hyderabad, citing injury. She played only two matches at the franchise headquarters, Lucknow. A bigger blow to her preparedness must be that she was stunned by a rank outsider in a match that brought the curtains down on the title favourite. Already, Badminton Association of India (BAI) chief Akhilesh Das Gupta has clarified that the London bronze medallist was never forced to participate or play in PBL.

It is such sorry spectacles that make cricket extravaganzas appear larger-than-life. It is indeed a sad commentary on how abysmally non-cricket disciplines are run in the country. The biggest bonus from the PBL experiences from the Indian point of view is that gifted men shuttlers like HS Prannoy, Ajay Jayaram, Kidambi Srikanth, and RGV Gurusaidutt proved their mettle. Come to think of it, it is woman power that propels Indian badminton!

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