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IBL has arrived!

IBL has arrived!
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Highlights

Indian sport enters a new, and as yet untested, phase on Wednesday. Apparently, thousands of fans and administrators from across the continents will be keeping their fingers crossed. The first-of-its-kind Indian Badminton League (IBL), the shuttle version of the hugely successful Indian Premier League (IPL), will take-off in New Delhi on the eve of Independence Day.

Indian sport enters a new, and as yet untested, phase on Wednesday. Apparently, thousands of fans and administrators from across the continents will be keeping their fingers crossed. The first-of-its-kind Indian Badminton League (IBL), the shuttle version of the hugely successful Indian Premier League (IPL), will take-off in New Delhi on the eve of Independence Day.

It could be well be liberation of sorts for the fringe players, who are knocking the doors of the big league. As an opportunity, the sport’s richest and possibly elitist event will be the perfect platform for shuttlers from all over the world to parade talent, win honours, hearts and, of course, mega bucks all in the span of a fortnight.

Individual glory may not be forthcoming as it is a team championship but accolades and honours will come along the way, as it has done to several IPL players, who graduated to their respective national teams on the sheer strength of their performances in the innovative T20 format.

The League opener pits host Delhi with Pune from 8pm at DDA Badminton & Squash Stadium, Siri Fort. The most noticeable aspect about IBL is that it has been made more exciting as a proposition by way of changes in rules, regulations, points structuring, a definitive time-frame and enhanced vibrant playing conditions and overall appeal. The IBL organisers have mandated that each of the six franchisees has to field an eleventh player, who should be an Indian junior, which is a good augury for the domestic circuit for more reasons than one.

If anything is lacking in the IBL then it certainly is short on the glamour quotient because women will play considerably less matches than men, which is in addition to the absence of top guns from China, at least for the first edition. Thankfully, after surviving some anxious moments, the reigning men number one from Malaysia and the costliest player, Lee Chong Wei, has confirmed that he has recovered from injury and would be turning up for Mumbai.

Meanwhile, despite the initial hiccups, including the verbal tirades by two Icon players, the event has got a filmy pre-release sort of opener in the battle-cry given by P V Sindhu. Already there is a crazed expectation about the potentialities of the Independence Day showdown between Sindhu (representing Lucknow) and Saina Nehwal donning Hyderabad colours. In individual singles parlance, it could well be a final before the final with the pretender fresh from her most momentous outing and the queen from a deplorably forgettable adventure. The dice has been cast and the sweepstakes have been announced. It is time to sit back and enjoy exhilarating on-court action.

Sridhar K Penna

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