World No. 2 Tai Tzu Ying will light up the court as Bengaluru Raptors begin their title defense in the fifth season of the Premier Badminton League against North Eastern Warriors at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here in Chennai tomorrow. A treat awaits the city’s sports fans with the former World No. 1 all set to take on 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Michelle Li of the North Eastern Warriors, which also has the legendary Lee Yong Dae and Guwahati’s rising star Ashmita Chaliha among its ranks.
Li has two career wins over the Chinese Taipei ace with her last victory coming at the 2019 Japan Open and the North Eastern Warriors shuttler would aim to repeat against PBL’s joint-costliest player, Tai.
“I have fond memories of playing here two years ago. We have a strong squad and are confident of putting up a good show,” said Tai.
Sai Praneeth, who has been retained by the Bengaluru franchise, will be coming to the league fresh from his historic bronze medal win at the World Championships. With former World No. 19 Brice Leverdez in the squad as well as promising talent Ansal Yadav, Bengaluru’s men’s singles line-up looks robust.
The North Eastern Warriors, on the other hand, will be boosted by the presence of World No. 23 Lee Cheuk Yiu, who made it to the semi-finals of the Indonesia Masters last week. Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk will be continuing his association with the Guwahati-based franchise for the second year in a row with PBL debutant Kaushal Dharmamer being in the team.
2008 Olympic champion Lee Yong Dae will be riding on his Malaysia Masters title win to play for North Eastern Warriors in his fourth consecutive appearance for the league. With PBL veteran Bodin Isara and India’s 2018 Dutch Junior Open runner-up Krishna Prasad Garaga in the line-up, the Warriors will be posing a serious challenge.
“We have a very solid team. We had a pretty good training session and are upbeat for the kick-off,” said the Korean legend.
2016 Olympic Games silver medallist Chan Peng Soon will be leading the doubles charge of the Raptors along with India’s Arun George and Indonesia’s Rian Agung Saputro. Former World No. 1 Kim Ha Na will be taking the court for mixed doubles for the Warriors while the Raptors has multiple World Championships medallist Eom Hye Won.
The Warriors are scheduled to play their second match in Chennai as well against the Awadhe Warriors on January 23 while the Raptors will meet the Chennai Superstarz on the next day.
The fifth season of world’s most popular badminton league, organized by Sportzlive and held under the aegis of Badminton Association of India (BAI), will see seven teams – Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Raptors, Mumbai Rockets, Hyderabad Hunters, Chennai Superstarz, North Eastern Warriors and Pune 7 Aces -- slugging it out for a prize of Rs 6 crore. The PBL season 5 will be telecast live on Star Sports and streamed live on Hotstar.