With the top women’s player in Saina Nehwal and a solid men’s doubles team, coach Rajendra Kumar can be assured of a good start in the league, writes Dev Sukumar.
The hotbed for badminton talent and the land of former India great Pullela Gopichand will be gunning to cheer for the home team Hyderabad Hotshots. Owned by the PVP group, the team consists of a mix of youth and experience. With top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal and former Olympic Champion Taufik Hidayat, the team does not lack in star power. The team also consists of regular doubles pairing V Shem Goh and Khim Wah Lim, rising Indian star Ajay Jayaram, promising doubles players Tarun Kona and Pradnya Gadre. Thai star Tanongsak with Indians Subhankar Dey and Kanthi Visalakshi complete the line up.
Saina obviously is the strongest women’s singles contender in the tournament, and should be able to win all of her matches. The one tricky prospect is Tai Tzu Ying of Banga Beats. Sindhu (Awadhe Warriors) could run her close, but we know the contest would be a good one for sure.
The Hotshots have world No. 17 Lim Khim Wah/Goh V Shem for the men’s doubles. The advantage is that they are a regular combination. The advantage is that they are good on the court. They are a strong pair worldwide, and their chances are good in the league.
Men’s singles and mixed doubles :
Taufik Hidayat would be the choice for the first singles and is working quite well on his level of fitness and motivation after his retirement at the Indonesia Open in June. Against Lee Chong Wei (Mumbai Masters) he will put his vast experience on the court; against Kashyap (Banga Beats) he will be a fierce competitor; while he can count on his international experience and skills against Nguyen Tien Minh (Pune Pistons) and Wong Wing Ki (Delhi Smashers).
The other two men’s singles players, Ajay Jayaram and Tanongsak, are strong seconds for the Hotshots. The Hotshots would be better served if Taufik was to play the first men’s singles and win it, which he could easily do against other teams and let Jayaram or Tanongsak wrap up the second match. A lot depends therefore on the order of the matches, and the Hotshots’ preferred choice of the first men’s singles player.
With Tarun Kona and Pradnya Gadre, the Hotshots have a good and strong mixed doubles pair. Pradnya has recently started on the international circuit. Tarun has had some marginal successes thanks to his pairing with Ashwini Ponnappa. Tarun is primarily a forecourt player; how he and Pradnya would fare would be an interesting watch for all the badminton lovers.
Among the reserves is Subhankar Dey. The Bangalore-based lad is an emerging prospect, and has improved greatly since his move to Bangalore under veteran coach Tom John.
To sum it up, Hyderabad has a formidable team. They have some strong players and the overall strength will elicit fear in their opponents. The assessment will change tremendously with the mere presence of Taufik Hidayat and will change further if the men’s doubles team notches some good wins. The changed scoring format too will influence outcomes, for it would require lesser match-fitness, and weaker players could well topple the more favoured ones. Hyderabad certainly has the star appeal of Taufik and Saina Nehwal going for them and will surely go a long way in the league.
|1||Saina Nehwal (India)||WS|
|2||Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia)||MS|
|3||Ajay Jayaram (India)||MS|
|4||V Shem Goh (Malaysia)||MD|
|5||Tarun Kona (India)||XD|
|6||Pradnya Gadre (India)||XD|
|7||Khim Wah Lim (Mayalsia)||MD|
|9||Kanthi Visalakshi (India)||WS|
|10||Subhankar Dey (India)||MD|
|11||C Rahul Yadav||MD|