Hyderabad: All four teams featuring in the last leg of the Premier Badminton League in Hyderabad, beginning at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, are in contention for the top four slots which make them eligible for the semifinals.
Delhi Dashers and North Eastern Warriors (both 11 points), who are placed sixth and seventh in the eight-team table, have as much a chance as the top two teams currently leading the standings — Bengaluru Blasters and Hyderabad Hunters.
Leaders Bengaluru (15 points) and Hyderabad (14 points), who play the last match of the league before the semis, cannot breathe easy as the other teams can overhaul their tally and displace them from the top. It is a possibility because each team can rake up a maximum of six points if they win all their five duels (four points each from four wins and two points from the Trump match).
The only advantage Bengaluru and Hyderabad have is that before they trudge to the court on Thursday they will have a clear idea how many points they need to maintain their status at the top and make the semifinal cut.
In contrast, Saina Nehwal’s Awadhe Warriors and P. V. Sindhu’s Chennai Smashers, who are in the mid-table with 12 points each, can only watch the battle unfold at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium as they have finished their league engagements.
Bengaluru’s leading star and World No.1 Viktor Axelsen believes his team can go the distance. “We are thankful for where we are, hopefully we can make it to the semis and then will take it from there. But we have to believe that we can win and can make it to the there,” the Dane said.
Hunters’ coach, Fernando Rives feels it’s anybody’s game. “This year all teams are very even, any team can win it. Look at us, at one time we were at the bottom of the table and how we have are now in the top two,” the Spaniard said on Tuesday.
The Delhi Dashers and North Eastern Warriors, who play their last league match on Wednesday, indicated neither will be conceding an inch. “Tomorrow’s match is very crucial for our existence in the League and we will give it our best shot,” asserted Ashwini Ponnappa, Delhi’s doubles star.