Bangalore: Regardless of the results of the last two pool matches in the Premier Badminton League (PBL), to be played as a double-header today in Bengaluru's Kanteerava Stadium, the four semi-finalists have virtually been decided.
Chennai Smashers' PV Sindhu returns to Supanida K of the Hyderabad Hunters in Hyderabad on Sunday. Pic/PTI
Hyderabad Hunters, with 11 points from their five league ties, are already out of contention for the last four stage, as they have completed the pool engagements, and have just 11 points, with four teams ahead of them on the table.
Bengaluru Topguns, currently languishing in the cellar, are teetering on the brink of the precipice, needing an unlikely maximum six points from their final outing against Chennai Smashers, including a failed trump from their rivals, if they are to overtake either Chennai or Mumbai Rockets.
It is really only a mathematical chance, for Chennai, sitting pretty with 13 points (five more than Bengaluru), have to win just two of the five matches in the tie to put themselves out of the hosts' reach, even allowing for a reverse in their trump match, which is expected to be one of the doubles encounters. If, however, Chennai win their trump match, Bengaluru will be instantly eliminated.
PV Sindhu would be strongly favoured to beat China's Suo Di in the women's singles, while a second point for Chennai should be delivered by any one of the men's singles trio of Brice Leverdez, Simon Santoso and Sony Kuncoro against young Sameer Verma. Southpaw Chris Adcock could also play a big part in both the paired events, in the company of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Pia Zebadiah.
In the earlier tie, Mumbai will take on Delhi, whose main plus points is that they have not lost any trump match in four clashes thus far. Thus, even though they have actually lost more matches than they have won (7 won – 9 lost), they are currently comfortably placed in second position on the league table, and can safely be said to have qualified for the semi-finals.
As for Mumbai, they also need to ensure garnering a single point to put themselves out of reach of either Hyderabad or Bengaluru. And the presence of Vladimir Ivanov in the two paired events, with Mathias Boe (who sat out on Monday after suffering from a stomach bug) and Kamilla Rytter-Juhl, should net them that vital point.
Even though Mumbai's two men's singles exponents, Sai Praneeth and R M V Gurusaidutt, would appear to have their hands full while dealing with the in-form Tommy Sugiarto and Rajiv Ouseph, their women's singles nominee, Han Li or Liu Xi Die, will stand a great chance against P C Thulasi.
Mumbai appear to have their bases covered; and, along with Chennai, should join Awadhe and Delhi in the last four, as the league heads for a climax.