After the richest cricket league in the world, curtains will go up on the richest badminton league on the globe when the shuttle starts flying in the Indian Badminton League (IBL) on Wednesday in New Delhi.
Badminton’s popularity in India has been on the rise in the past few years with Indian players doing well and pushing themselves up the rankings consistently. The Chinese may have snubbed the league, but the inaugural season and the presence of India’s top stars is expected to get IBL all the attention it deserves.
The fanfare at the players’ auction led to bitter controversies and only fine on-court performances now will bring the league on solid ground free of controversies.
Here’s a pocket guide to follow the tournament that begins today.
Six teams of maximum 11 players each (4 foreigners, 6 Indians and 1 junior Indian) will face each other in the league stage. Top four teams at the end of the league phase will move into the semi-finals.
Each tie between two teams will be a five-match affair: two men’s singles matches and one each of women’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles.
All matches will be best of three games. There will be no two-point difference in the first two games; the player who first reaches 21 points will win the game. The third game (if the match is tied at one game all) will be decided in a race to 11 points.
Players will be allowed one-minute breaks after the seventh and 14th point in the first two games and after the sixth point in the deciding third game.
ESPN and Star Sports 2 will broadcast the games live, with matches beginning at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. IST.
While the league winners take home Rs 3.5 crore, the runners-up will win a purse of Rs 2 crore.
Mumbai Masters: Pranav Chopra, Siki Reddy, Manu Attri, PC Thulasi, Sumeet Reddy, Rasika Raje and Harsheel Dani (India); Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia); Tine Baun (Denmark); Marc Zwiebler (Germany); Vladimir Ivanov (Russia).
Krrish Delhi Smashers: Jwala Gutta, HS Prannoy, Sai Praneeth, Arundhati Pantawane, V Diju and Prajakta Sawant (India); Wong Wing Ki (Hong Kong); Boon Heong Tan and Kien Keat Koo (Malaysia); Nichaon Jindapon (Thailand).
Hyderabad Hotshots: Saina Nehwal, Pradnya Gadre, Tarun Kona, Ajay Jayaram, Kanthi Visalakshi P, Shubhankar Dey and C Rahul Yadav (India); Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia); Tanongsak (Thailand); Goh V Shem and Lim Khim Wah (Malaysia).
Awadhe Warriors: PV Sindhu, Gurusai Dutt, K Srikanth, Ruthvika Shivani, K Maneesha, Nanda Gopal and Vinay Singh (India); Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Thailand); Markis Kido (Indonesia); Chong Wei Feng (Malaysia).
Banga Beats: Parupalli Kashyap, Akshay Dewalkar, Aparna Balan, Arvind Bhat, Aditya Prakash, J Meghana and Daniel Farid (India); Hu Yun (Hong Kong); Carsten Mogensen (Denmark); Tai Tzu-ying (Chinese Taipei); Carolina Marín (Spain).
Pune Pistons: Ashwini Ponnappa, Saurabh Verma, Anup Sridhar, Sanave Thomas, Arun Vishnu and Rupesh Kumar KT (India); Nguyen Tien Minh (Vietnam); Juliane Schenk (Germany); Joachiam Fischer Nielsen (Denmark); Tan Wee Kiong (Malaysia)