Bangalore, January 7: After the successful completion of four legs, the Vodafone Premier Badminton League Season 4 moves to Bengaluru on January 7 for the final leg and the grand finale. In the first match, the Kanteerava Stadium will witness a battle between the third-placed Awadhe Warriors and the Season 2 champions Chennai Smashers.
It’s a clash of contrasts. While the Warriors are currently enjoying good fortunes and have 16 points in their kitty, the Smashers have been struggling and only have a meagre 10 points. The Warriors are coming into this match after a thunderous 6-(-1) victory over the Ahmedabad Smash Masters. The Chennai brigade, on the other hand, was blanked 0-5 by the Mumbai Rockets in their last match.
The Warriors are clearly high on confidence at the moment. The presence of the former World No. 1 Son Wan Ho has bolstered their men’s singles line-up especially after the Korean finished the 2018 season with two titles. Lee Dong Keun too has played his part well as the No. 2 player, as validated by his strong performance against Sourabh Verma in Awadhe’s most recent outing.
Spearheading the doubles attack, Ashwini Ponnappa feels, “This is the perfect moment to step up to the occasion. We have a chance to climb to the top of the table and we are definitely aiming for that. The confidence is high and we are confident of continuing the momentum.”
Having said that, the Chennai team who are known for being table crashers and with the presence of the likes of Parupalli Kashyap and Rajiv Ouseph, the Warriors cannot tread lightly. Both the Chennai shuttlers boast of Commonwealth Games medals and have a vast experience in the international circuit. Ouseph also went on to stun the former world champion Viktor Axelsen this season and would be gunning to cause yet another huge upset.
It’s the women singles encounter that could be tricky and a lot could depend on its outcome. Awadhe’s World No. 10 Beiwen Zhang meets Chennai’s World No. 11 Sung Ji Hyun. Sung has a 3-1 head-to-head record over Zhang but it is interesting to note that the Awadhe shuttler won their last showdown.
The two have been sensational at the league, with both of them turning the tables on the BWF World Tour Finals champion PV Sindhu. Suffice to say, their face-off is expected to go down to the wire.
Speaking about the upcoming tie, Kashyap “It’s our last shot,we will go all out; we need 6 points we’ll give it all. We’ve done this before; it’s an important match for us and the team has been training really hard for tomorrow’s game.”
The doubles department too doesn’t look shabby either for both the squads. Chennai have the No. 9 mixed doubles pair of Chris and Gabby Adcock, who need to bounce back from a defeat in their last match. Awadhe’s Mathias Christiansen and Ashwini Ponnappa, meanwhile, emerged victorious and would like to continue the winning run.
In men’s doubles, the Warriors would be looking up to the combination of Yang Lee and Christiansen to put them ahead against the likely duo of Sumeeth Reddy and Adcock.