Hyderabad: At the half-way stage of the Premier Badminton League (PBL), it is the Delhi Acers who are perched at the very top of the standings, and who have virtually sealed their entry into the play-off semi-finals.
The major reason for Delhi’s dominance is the judicious use of the trump card in all of their matches thus far. They have won all the trump matches in the four ties they have played, thus garnering double points for those wins, even as they have deprived their rivals of trump victories in clashes that have gone the full distance.
Lee Chong Wei
It has not mattered that Delhi have actually won just seven of the 16 non-trump matches, while there are two other teams who have won as many non-trump matches as they have lost. The Acers’ 15 points simply cannot be bettered by the last two teams on the table, Bengaluru Topguns and Hyderabad Hunters.
Admittedly, some of the other teams have played fewer ties; and have a chance of bettering their own tally over the current weekend. The two sides that have played just two ties each – Chennai Smashers and Hyderabad Hunters – square off against each other on Sunday in the second of Hyderabad’s “home games” at the Gachibowli Stadium.
Hyderabad will almost definitely utilise the services of former world no.1 Lee Chong Wei in what is scheduled to be his last outing in the PBL, for he is set to return to Malaysia late on Sunday night.
Notwithstanding his losses to Kidambi Srikanth and Tommy Sugiarto, it is hard to see Lee capitulating to any of the Smashers’ singles players – Brice Leverdez or Indonesians Simon Santoso and Sony Dwi Kuncoro.
Also read: Delhi Acers edge ahead of Hyderabad Hunters as Lee Chong Wei loses Trump match
It is on the cards that Kuncoro will make his PBL debut on Sunday at the expense of Frenchman Leverdez, while just-anointed world no.1 junior, A S Siril Verma could also play for Hyderabad in place of the off-colour Parupalli Kashyap.
In the women’s singles, it is difficult to see the spunky Thai junior Supanida Katethong lower the colours of Chennai’s P V Sindhu, but the home team will be competitive in the two doubles events if they field stocky Indonesian Markis Kido, in the company of Carsten Mogensen and Jwala Gutta.