Hyderabad: The Players’ Auction on Monday for the fourth edition of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League promises to be yet another glitzy affair with some of the world’s leading badminton players going under the hammer in New Delhi.
The auction this year will have an added significance with all players returning to the auction pool for the first time since 2015 with no right to match (RTM) cards for any teams as the league expands to nine teams with the addition of Pune Franchise.
Rio Olympic Gold Medalist and 2018 World Champion Carolina Marin, former world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen, Son Wan Ho, badmintonlegend Lee Yong Dae along with Asian Games medalists P. V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal are part of the 145 players listed from 23 countries to go under the hammer.
Earning himself the tag of ‘Icon Player’ for the first time based on his phenomenal track record in PBL, men’s singles stars H. S. Prannoy will be in great demand as the teams would look to spend their maximum purse of `2.6 crore in a bid to build a formidable unit.
The other players granted the iconic Status include Axelsen, Marin, Nehwal, Sindhu, Srikanth, Yong Dae, Sung Ji Hyun and Son Wan Ho.
The PBL, organised under the aegis of Badminton Association of India and conducted by the Sportzlive, has been attracting top talents from across the globe since its inception and the fourth edition would be no different with many former and current world championship medalists confirming their presence for the 23-day extravaganza to be held from December 22 to January 13 next year.
Increase in Indian players
There has been a sizeable increase in the number of Indian players listed for the auction — 67 of them are in fray — including Asian Junior Champion Lakshya Sen throwing his hat in the ring.
There would also be a quality Chinese representation with Tian Houwei returning for the second successive year while 2017 world championship men doubles bronze medallist Chai Biao and mixed doubles specialist Wang Sijie making their debut.
BAI President and PBL Chairman Himanta Biswa Sarma expressed his delight over the quality of the field for the auction and said, “The increased interest of top players in the PBL underlines the growing stature of the tournament which has become a global brand in a short span of time.”
The fourth edition of the league is beckoning us and promises to be a far bigger and more competitive affair with the ninth team added to the roster,” he added.
According to the rules of the auction, the teams can spend a maximum of `80 lakh on one player. In case of a deadlock, the player will be assigned to a team through a draw of lots.
Talking about the expectations from the auctions, Bengaluru Raptors franchise co-owner Arvind Bhatt said, “We are looking to have a team which is not only made of champion players but more than that players having character and project the ethos and team spirit.”
Winners of PBL Season 3, Hyderabad Hunter owner Shyam Gopu added prior to the auctions, “We have so far had a great run in the league and will look to build a utility team which can help us to defend the crown.”
The 23-day event will witness nine teams Delhi Dashers, Ahmedabad Smash Masters, Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Raptors, Mumbai Rockets, Hyderabad Hunters, Chennai Smashes, North Eastern Warriors and Pune 7 Aces slug it out for a prize purse of `6 crore in five cities with the inaugural rounds being held in Mumbai. Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Bengaluru will be the other host cities.
A total of 30 matches will be played with seven double headers adding to the charm of the world’s most competitive badminton league.
The PBL organisers have also roped in the former International Cricket Council Anti-corruption unit head Ravi Sawani as the Chief anti-corruption and integrity commissioner to roll out the anti-corruption policies for the upcoming edition.