Pullela Gopichand explained how the trump match concept will add to the overall excitement of the six-team PBL © Getty Images (Representational Image)
Pullela Gopichand explained how the trump match concept will add to the overall excitement of the six-team PBL © Getty Images (Representational Image)

Mumbai: The introduction of trump matches in the upcoming Premier Badminton League (PBL) will add to the excitement level in the event that kicks off here on January 2 next year, said national team coach Pullela Gopichand. “It’s a great addition to the league to ensure that the excitement remains till the end of the tie,” said Gopichand at the unveiling ceremony of the logo and team colours of the city’s PBL franchise, Mumbai Rockets. Gopichand explained how the trump match concept will add to the overall excitement of the six-team PBL that has been revived after a gap of one year and is set to conclude on January 17 with the finals in Delhi.

“Each team has to nominate a trump match from among five matches. Teams have to finalise their line-up one and a half hours before the tie. At that time they have to mention which will be their trump match,” said the national team coach. “The winner of the trump match gains one extra point and the loser [who nominated it as its trump match] will lose one point. Two teams can nominate the same match as trump match.”

“This ensures that the last two matches are also important in a tie. Even a 3-0 lead is not sufficient to win as you still can lose the tie. Spectators’ interest will be kept alive. It needs to be seen how the players react to the extra pressure. Some play better under pressure and some others crack,” he said. Mumbai Rockets’ Canadian coach Ram Nayyar said the trump match could turn out to be the key and his players’ experience would stand it in good stead in this format.

“The introduction of trump matches is exciting. Our experience will be good in trump matches. But it depends on how well we perform in it,” he said. Mumbai Rockets squad member and Indian world no. 20, H S Prannoy, said his team looked well-balanced on paper. “Over the last two years I have been playing really well, along with Guru Saidutt. We both are in good form. We are a pretty balanced outfit. We have really good doubles players too,” said the 23-year-old who hails from Kerala.

Top Danish doubles player Mathias Boe felt it was important for the team to start well at its home base where it plays two games — against Awadh Warriors (January 2) and against Chennai Smashers (January 3). “Our team is really strong. If we can start off well in the first two matches at home we can gain confidence for the other matches,” said the 35-year-old who is currently world no. 4 in men’s doubles.

Apart from Prannoy, Guru and Boe, the Mumbai Rockets squad is made up of Han Li, Liu Zi Die (both China), Ruthvika Gadde (India) to play in women’s singles, Vladimir Ivanov (Russia), Manu Attri (India), Chayut Triyachart (Thailand) in men’s/mixed doubles and Kamilla Juhl (Denmark) in women’s/mixed doubles. Gopichand maintained that all the teams appeared well-balanced.

“I am personally excited with PBL. All the teams look very strong on paper and it’s going to be a challenge to predict the winner. Teams are well-balanced. I am expecting a lot of fireworks. The league actually helps a lot of young and aspiring players to compete against the big names in the world. It’s exciting for the crowd too,” he added. He brushed aside concerns that quite a few top players from the world will not be seen in action, and insisted that the level of badminton would be very high.

“The way I look at it today, with whatever challenges we have had to face, the players we have is fantastic. We have players like Lee Chong Wei [Malaysia, Hyderabad Hunters], Boe, Ivanov, Joachim Fischer. Each day you will see a Saina Nehwal playing [for Awadhe Warriors], a PV Sindhu playing [for Chennai Smashers] or a world champion playing or an Olympic medallist playing; that’s the level [standard]. To have it in different cities, for example to see a Saina play or Lee play, is fantastic. It will encourage kids to watch,” Gopichand said.