The Premier Badminton League – spanking new with a fresh name – is all set to roll with a high-profile clash between Mumbai Rockets and Awadhe Warriors on Saturday.
This PBL 2016 clash in Mumbai will be preceded by a glitzy opening ceremony, but once the players walk onto the court, it will be all about that racquet and shuttle battle, with Saina Nehwal the headline act of the first match of the new season.
Saina, though, will not be a part of the home team, with India's best badminton player plying her trade for the Awadhe Warriors, the Lucknow-based franchise of the PBL.
Apart from the PBL being a team event, there are a few rule changes built-in for this tournament which is bound to excite the fans as well, chief of them being the trump match option. With that option, each team can pick a particular match as the trump match, which will in turn give the franchise the chance to earn an extra point, even if there are risks involved with that option as well.
"It's a great addition to the league to ensure that the excitement remains till the end of the tie," India's national coach Pullela Gopichand said. "Each team has to nominate a trump match from among five matches. Teams have to finalise their lineup one and a half hours before the tie. At that time, they have to mention which will be their trump match.
"The winner of the trump match gains one extra point and the loser will lose one point. Two teams can nominate the same match as trump match. This ensures that the last two matches are also important in a tie."
Teams: Mumbai Rockets: Indians: Prannoy HS, RM Gurusaidutt, Mannu Attri and Ruthwika Gadde.
Foreigners: Han Li, Liu Zi Die, Chayut Triyachart, Vladmir Ivanov, Mathias Boe and Kamilla Rytter Juhl.
Awadhe Warriors: Indians: B Sai Praneeth, Sourabh Verma, K Maneesha, Saina Nehwal, G Vrushali.
Foreigners: Cai Yun, Bodin Isara, Hendra Gunawan, Christinna Pedersen, S Tanongsak.
Where to Watch Live
Match 1 of PBL 2016 – Mumbai Rockets vs Awadhe Warriors – is scheduled for a 6.30 pm IST start. Live coverage of the entire match will be on Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD2 (both English), Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD3 (both Hindi). Hotstar and Starsports.com are the live streaming options to watch the Premier Badminton League match online.
Viewers in Hong Kong can watch the PBL live on Fox Sports.