With good women’s singles and men’s/mixed doubles line-ups as well as a youthful side, the Warriors could be the dark horses of this IBL, writes Suhrid Barua.
One of the traditional sports strongholds of the country, Lucknow is also a nursery for nurturing budding badminton talent. The Sahara India Pariwar, headquartered in Lucknow and known to be the biggest promoter of Sport in India own the Awadhe Warriors team. The franchise made everyone sit up and take notice of them at the auction by meticulously picking their players.
The shrewdness of the Lucknow franchise can be gauged from the fact that they hired former All-England Champion Muhammad Hafiz Hashim first up, and his pep talk with the senior management must have led them to their call of not going all out for only the big stars.
Coach Hashim, who won the 2003 All-England Championships, and is the only foreign coach in the IBL apart from Delhi Smashers’ Rashid Sidek, is known for his tactical acumen. The highs he attained as a player will really help his players to perform to the optimum level come August 14.
Women’s singles, Men’s/Mixed doubles will be their strength
The Warriors knew well that a solid singles player would be good enough to do the job for them. And they did exactly that with their $80,000 purchase of 18-year-old PV Sindhu. Sindhu is the biggest thing in Indian women’s badminton after Saina Nehwal.
Sindhu has shown signs of belonging to the senior league after stunning the Olympic champion Li Xuerui at last year’s China Open. She clinched her maiden senior singles title – the Malaysian Open – last May, and the Lucknow Warriors will be hoping that she will replicate the same form in the IBL. Thailand’s Sapsiree Taerattanachai is another real good option for the Lucknow franchise. Youngster Ruthvika Shivani is a good alternate option for the Lucknow outfit.
The Lucknow outfit wears a formidable look in the men’s doubles category – in Markis Kido they have one of the world’s top men’s doubles players, who is likely to be complemented by the recent acquisition of former world No.1 Mathias Boe.
As for mixed doubles, the Warriors can play it confident with the regular pair. The Indian pair of K Nandagopal, brother of K Srikanth, and K Maneesha had recently won an international mixed doubles crown in Maldives, and it would make sense for Hashim to play them in the mixed doubles. Of course, the coach can also shuffle his wards around and even try out either Markis Kido or Mathias Boe with K Maneesha just to ensure all his team members are fresh and in the best physical shape.
Coach Hashim will have a problem of plenty when it comes to the men’s singles. Malaysian Weng Fei Chong and talented Indians RMV Gurusaidutt and Thailand Open champion K Srikanth are expected to do the duty in the men’s singles department. Although neither of them are world-beaters, they are expected to perform well for the Warriors.
The Awadhe Warriors can definitely get the results going their way in the men’s singles event and they can very well be the dark horses of the inaugural IBL. And if any team takes them lightly, it will be at their own peril.
PrajaktaSawant, the latest doubles partner of Jwala Gutta after she partedways with Ashiwini Poonappa, is another option the Smashers canexercise.
|1||PV Sindhu (India)||XD|
|2||Wei Feng Chong (Malaysia)||MS|
|4||K Srikanth (India)||MS|
|5||Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Thailand)||WS|
|6||Ruthvika Shivani (India)||WS|
|7||Markis Kido (Indonesia)||MD/XD|
|8||Mathias Boe (Denmark)||MD|
|9||K Maneesha (India)||XD|
|10||K Nandagopal (India)||MD/XD|