Having lost their previous ties, Bengaluru Top Guns and Mumbai Rockets will look to bounce back when they lock horns in their second tie of the Premier Badminton League tomorrow.
The Top Guns will expect Kidambi Srikanth to give them the required impetus for the team to bounce back as he is riding high on confidence after beating two-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei last night.
Srikanth-H S Prannoy match is expected to be an exciting encounter with the former holding an edge over his fellow Gopichand Academy trainee, having beaten him twice including a memorable three set win (21-12 12-21 14-21) in the 2015 Syed Modi International Badminton Championships.
Though Srikanth is the higher ranked player at World No. 9 than Prannoy, who is ranked 20, both are touted to be strong Olympic hopefuls for India in the men’s singles category. Srikanth is confident of leading his team to victory.
“This being an Olympic year, there is always sharing of ideas and experience between your fellow competitors which happens when you respect and admire each other’s game. Having trained with Prannoy on a regular basis, sharing ways to improve your game is definitely helpful when you are looking to compete in the Olympics and it helps that we are all at the same level in terms of competition.”
Coach Arvind Bhat is still proud of his players’ performances.
“Two of our fixtures against Hyderabad went to the deciding set while the other 3 fixtures showed the potential of our players to take opponents close. We need to work harder on converting those close finishes into wins.
“The team has performed exceptionally well but unfortunately we fell short. The Trump Games did set us back the last time but our performances were definitely up to the mark,” he added.
Having enthralled everyone with a powerful 290 kmph serve, Suo Di will look forward to face off against fellow Chinese player Han Li, who has displayed nerves of steel for the Rockets in their previous match.
The two women have a long history of training with each other back in their home country of China.
Mumbai Rockets, placed second in the league table, will miss services of their Mixed Doubles’ specialist Kamilla Juhl due to international commitments.
Top Guns will look to take advantage of her absence in the doubles category with the services of their Malaysian mavericks Hoon Thien How and Khim Wah Lim who posed a serious threat to the World Number Four duo of Carsten Morgensen and Markis Kido at Mumbai in their first encounter, ending their night with a tight loss (15-13 9-15 14-15) in the men’s doubles fixture.
“The Malaysian pairing has been superb. They are not only putting up some amazing performances but playing an intelligent game. The fact that they do not get intimidated by any opposition is also a very big advantage for us. Though they produced some amazing shots and drops yesterday, the best is yet to come from them,” said Arvind.
The game-changer for the Top Guns could, however, be the Mixed Doubles pairing between Ashwini Ponappa and Robert Blair. Ashwini, who stole the show with her partner Joachim Nielsen Fischer against Jwala Gutta and Markis Kido in their first outing, will now partner Robert for the next two matches in the tournament.