Mumbai: The revamped Premier Badminton League (PBL), commencing here tomorrow with hosts Mumbai Rockets taking on the Saina Nehwal-spearheaded Awadhe Warriors, is to experiment with a new concept - Trump match - that's expected to keep the interest till the end of a tie.
The League, revived after a gap of two years following a successful inaugural Indian Badminton League in 2013, has brought in the fresh idea in which each of the competing teams will nominate one match in each tie as their Trump Card.
A victory by the team that picked the particular game as its Trump will provide it with one extra point but a defeat will set it back by one point, and the intrigue generated by this new concept would keep the ties alive till the end, according to national coach Pullela Gopichand.
"It's a great addition to the league to ensure that the excitement remains till the end of the tie. Two teams can nominate the same match as Trump match. This ensures that the last two matches are also important in a tie," said Gopichand here in the run-up to the League opener.
"Even a 3-0 lead is not sufficient to win as you still can lose the tie. Spectators' interest will be kept alive. It needs to be seen how the players react to the extra pressure.
Some play better under pressure and some others crack," he said.
World no. 2 Saina, who commanded USD 100,000 at the auction, would be leading Awadhe Warriors' challenge against Mumbai Rockets who appear strong in men's singles with two top men shuttlers of the country - HS Prannoy and RMV Gurusaidutt - leading their charge.
The host outfit has a strong men's doubles players in Denmark's Mathias Boe and Russia's Vladimir Ivanov.
World no. 20, Prannoy, has already sounded upbeat about his team's chances.
"Over the last two years I have been playing really well, along with Gurusaidutt. We both are in good form. We are a pretty balanced outfit. We have really good doubles players too," said the 23-year-old, who hails from Kerala, here ahead of the tournament opener.
Saina was upbeat that her team was a big contender for the title.
"With the presence of Tanongsak (Saensomboonsuk) of Thailand, Christinna Pedersen of Denmark and Sai Praneeth, our team is one of the contenders of the PBL 2016 title. We are looking for a positive start in the first match against the home team Mumbai Rockets," said Saina.
Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei said his team Hyderabad Hunters had quality players to make the best out of the Trump matches.
"Our team has match-winning players and the team combination of each tie will be around these players. The players in our team will also help us to score maximum points in the Trump Matches and if everything goes as per our strategies, our fans will see us in the Final of the Star Sports PBL 2016," he said.
"Bengaluru Top Guns has a good set of talented players such as Ashwini Ponnappa, Anand Pawar and Joachim Fischer Nielsen of Denmark. Playing against start-studded Hyderabad Hunters will be tough but the PBL has some unique rules and opportunities where all the teams get fair chances. We are hoping for best start in Mumbai," said India's highest world ranked player Srikanth.
Speaking on the clash against Mumbai Rockets, Sindhu said that it was unfortunate that her team Chennai could not play at home because of the recent floods in the southern city.
"It's unfortunate for our team that we are not playing our home matches in Chennai due to recent flood. However, we are playing for Chennai City and we will live up to the spirit of the fans back home in the most-awaited Star Sports Premier Badminton League.
"Chennai Smashers has a brilliant mix of skillful players who have mastered their talent in the game. Cris Adcock of England, Soni Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia and Sikki Reddy will lead from the front for Chennai Smashers. Through the Trump Match rule, we will explore various strategies around it and will try to gain maximum out of it," she added.
India Players: Ajay Jayaram, Shikha Gautam, Akshay Dewalkar, PC Thulasi and Aparna Balan
Foreign Players: Rajiv Ouseph, Tommy Sugiarto, ,Koo Kien Keat, Tan Boon Heong and Gabrielle Adcock
India Players: Siril Verma, Parupalli Kashyap, Jwala Gutta, J Meghana, K Nandagopal and R Satwik Sai Raj
Foreign Players: Markis Kido, Lee Chong Wei, Supanida Katethong andCarsten Mogensen,
Indian Players: Prannoy Kumar, RM Gurusaidutt, Mannu Attri and Ruthwika Gadde
Foreign Players: Han Li, Liu Zi Die, Chayut Triyachart, Vladmir Ivanov, Mathias Boe and Kamilla Rytter Juhl
Indian Players: B Sai Praneeth, Sourabh Verma, K Maneesha, Saina Nehwal, G Vrushali
Foreign Players: Cai Yun, , Bodin Isara, Hendra Gunawan, Christinna Pedersen , S. Tanongsak
Indian Players: Anand Pawar, Sameer Verma, Kidambi Srikanth, B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwinin Ponnappa
Foreign Players: Suo Dui, Tan Boon Heong, Koon Kien Keat, Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Robert Blair
Indian Players: PV Sindhu, Sri Krishna Priya, Pranav Chopra and N. Sikki Reddy
Foreign Players: Brice Leverdez, Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Simon Santoso, Chris Adcock, Toby Ng and Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth