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Can Mumbai Masters overcome Delhi Smashers?

Sanjay SharmaThe Indian Badminton League has produced some captivating contests so far and the fans will be eager for more when Krissh Delhi Smashers take on Mumbai Masters at the National Sports Complex of India (NSCI) in Worli this evening.

Supporters of the Masters will be thrilled to see the great Lee Chong Wei in action. He has featured in the India Super Series in Delhi over the past three years, but this is Chong Wei’s maiden trip to Mumbai. His presence would ensure a packed house today.

Chong Wei has stood at the top of the world rankings for a record 240 weeks and only one player — China’s Lin Dan — has been able to dominate him over the past eight years.

The duo met as recently as a fortnight ago when the Malaysian superstar bowed out due to severe cramps towards the closing stages of the third game in the World Championships final in Guangzhou. His losses to Dan apart, Chong Wei, has set an example for other players to follow, and enjoys a terrific following across the globe.

Easy match-up
Chong Wei, who attracted the maximum bid during the auctions at USD 135,000, missed Mumbai’s first couple of games and his team will be eager to see him help them recover from the loss to Pune Pistons in their previous outing.

Rasika Raje, Pranav Jerrey Chora, Manu Attri, Tine Baun, Lee Chong Wei, Vladimir Ivanov, Marc Zweibler, Siki Reddy, Sumeet Reddy and PC Thulasi
Members of Mumbai Masters (L to R) Rasika Raje, Pranav Jerrey Chora, Manu Attri, Tine Baun, Lee Chong Wei, Vladimir Ivanov, Marc Zweibler, Siki Reddy, Sumeet Reddy and PC Thulasi during a press conference of the Indian Badminton League at National Sports Club of India yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan

As things stand, Chong Wei is certain to feature in the first singles against Delhi. His opponent for this clash could either be his countryman Daren Liew or India’s young prospect Sai Praneeth who created a flutter, beating the dangerous Vietnamese star, Ngyun Tien Minh of Pune Pistons on the opening day. Neither of these players is likely to give Chong Wei sleepless nights.

The hosts also enjoy an edge in the second men’s singles with Russia’s Vladmir Ivanov displaying excellent form. “I am fit and enjoying myself. I am looking forward to playing alongside Lee Chong Wei. He is a great inspiration to all players across the world,” Ivanov told MiD-DAY through an interpreter yesterday.

With the Masters favourite to win both the men’s singles, there will be immense pressure on Jwala Gutta’s team to pull out the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.

Baun enjoys edge
Although Tine Baun has not been in the best of form, the Dane enjoys a considerable edge over Arundhati Pantawane or Thailand’s player Nichaon Jindapon.

The Smashers are strong in the men’s doubles event and without doubt, Boon Tan and Kien Keat Koo will demolish any opposition they come
across today.

The mixed doubles may prove to be a problem area for the Smashers as Jwala is nursing a sore shoulder. Prajakta Sawant may be brought in to play alongside either V Diju or Koo Keat.  

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