PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth lead their teams’ charge at PBL

Stars will look at the tournament as a step in their preparations for the Olympics.

India’s only franchise badminton tournament, the Premier Badminton League will enter its fifth season in 2020 when it kicks off on Monday. The tournament will be held across a three-week period with the final to be held on February 9 at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad.

There will be seven teams playing each other twice in the round-robin format and the ones which form the top four in the points table at the end of the league stages will then progress to the knockouts.

Action gets underway on January 20 with the opening weekend pitting the Chennai Superstarz against the Hyderabad Hunters at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai.

The latest edition will see matches being held across three legs in three different cities - Lucknow, Chennai, which returns after a two-year gap, and Hyderabad, the place which can easily lay claim to being the home of badminton in India.

Seven teams in PBL 2020

The previous four editions have seen a different champion emerge in each season with the Delhi Dashers, Chennai Smashers, Hyderabad Hunters and Bengaluru Raptors winning one title each.

The Mumbai Rockets have been the most consistent team, having made the finals in three of the four years but have been on the losing side each time, a run which they will look to correct this year.

The likes of Pune 7 Aces, Awadhe Warriors and North Eastern Warriors will also be gunning for their maiden crown this season.

A starry affair

The Premier Badminton League will gain extra significance this season as the players look to build momentum and maintain their form going into the Olympics in July.

The competition has seen several major stars grace the courts over the years and this year promises to deliver a similar spectacle. Rio 2016 silver-medallist, PV Sindhu will be seen in the opening weekend as she looks to take the Hyderabad Hunters to a second title.

India’s latest badminton stars, the doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who won the Thailand Masters last year will be separated for the tournament, as they will turn out for the Chennai Superstarz and Pune 7 Aces, respectively.

India’s highest-ranked shuttler in men’s singles, world no. 11 B Sai Praneeth will lead the charge for last season’s champions, Bengaluru Raptors. The team is arguably the strongest of the lot as they also boast of the services of the top-ranked women’s player, Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying.

The likes of world no.12 Kidambi Srikanth and London 2012 bronze-medallist, Saina Nehwal will not be a part of the event though, as the Indian stars pulled out to devote their focus towards their Olympics preparations.

Premier Badminton League 2020: Where to watch?

The Premier Badminton League’s broadcasting rights are owned by Star Sports. The matches, which start at 7 PM, will be telecast live on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD and will also be streamed live on their online platform, Hotstar.

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