"The game can change. Of course it can go against us also, so it is going to be tricky."
The inaugural Indian Badminton League (IBL) will take place with six teams from 14-31 August 2013, including eighteen days of non stop action, six world class venues and over sixty world class players.
A galaxy of international players from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Germany and Denmark will fight the battle of their lives on the Indian courts.
Following on from the success of the Indian Premier League, the Indian Badminton League will be grabbing all media headlines with a spectacular planned opening ceremony on August 14 at 6:30pm in Delhi, before the big game between Delhi and Pune begins at 8:00pm.
The IBL will see Sania Mirza as brand ambassador, supporting the teams and players with other national and international stars from the world of music, movies and sports. Bollywood actor, Shahrukh Khan is expected to attend the opening ceremony, with Mika Singh also performing.
The Badminton Association of India President, Akhiilesh Das Gupta, said: “The preparations for the Indian Badminton League are in full swing. I’m confident the IBL opening ceremony will be a breath-taking extravaganza with the whole world watching it LIVE.”
This IPL style franchise league is being touted as the richest prized money badminton league in the world with a purse of $1 million and will have some of the finest badminton players from around the world competing for the crown.
There were 29 teams who fought for the six franchises available with more than 150 players going under the hammer at the auction in July for only 66 slots.
The successful franchises were Hyderabad Hotshots, Banga Beats, Awadhe Warriors, Mumbai Masters, Pune Pistons and Krrish Delhi Smashers.
Hyderabad Hotshots are owned by PVP Ventures and will play their games at the Gachibowli indoor stadium in Hyderabad, coached by Rajendra Kumar and captained by India’s Saina Nehwal.
Banga Beats owned by BOP Group, play at Kanteerava Indoor stadium, coached by Vimal Kumar and captained by India’s Parupalli Kashyap.
Awadhe Warriors owned by Sahara, play at Babu Banarasi Das U.P Badminton Academy, coached by Muhammad Hafiz Hashim and captained by India’s PV Sindhu.
Mumbai Masters owned by Sunil Gavaskar, Akkineni Nagarjuna, play at Sardar Patel stadium, coached by Aparna Popat and captained by Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei.
Gavaskar was very excited at being part owner, saying: “I am proud to be associated with badminton which I’ve always admired and passionately followed and played a bit as a fan.
“The sport has produced legends and recorded many milestones for India and I hope my association with the Indian Badminton League proves to be a worth contribution to the great sport of badminton.”
Gavaskar will also act as a brand ambassador of Mumbai Masters.
Pune Pistons owned by Dabur India Limited, play at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports complex, coached by Nikhil Kanetkar and captained by India’s Ashwini Ponnappa.
Krrish Delhi Smashers owned by Krrish Group, play at DDA Badminton and Squash stadium, coached by Rashid Sidek and captained by India’s Jwala Gutta.
Amongst the players on auction were India’s star player Saina Nehwal who was sold to Hyderabad Hotshots for $120,000.
Malaysia’s World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei who went to Mumbai Masters for $135,000 was a coup for its owners that consisted of India’s former legend Sunil Gavaskar, actor Akkineni Nagarjuna and the former Indian cricket team manager V Chamundeshwarnath.
Other players included in the auction were Parupali Kashyap, PV Sindhu, Tinh Minh Nyugen, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa.
The matches will be played both home and away with each franchise hosting a two-day leg.
The top four will clash in the semi-finals at Hyderabad and Bangalore, which will then lead the two winners into the final in Mumbai on August 31. All matches to be played under the Sudirman Cup format.
One of the biggest highlights of the IBL is the much anticipated match between PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal on August 15 at DDA Badminton and Squash Stadium. Speaking about taking on her competitor, Sindhu said:
“My immediate target is to excel in the next two weeks at the Indian Badminton League. I am ready to play against Saina and will try to give my best performance. Hope it will be a good show.”
Adding to this excitement there will be a new scoring system in place for this league, in each of the first two games there will be two breaks of 60 seconds at 7 and 14 points respectively and if the match goes into a decider, then there will be a break after the sixth point.
Moreover, whilst the first two games will be a race to get to 21 points without the standard two-point gap, the first player to reach 11 points in the decider will be deemed as the winner of the match.
Indian star icon Jwala Gutta of Krrish Delhi Smashers believes it will make the game faster and more aggressive. The 29 year old from Hyderabad said the new format in the IBL will make it an exciting tournament, throwing up some interesting results:
“The format is different and anybody can win in this format and we have a good team. The shorter the game, the faster it becomes. It is going to be more aggressive and fast badminton.”
“Even if it is Lee Chong Wei we can pull it off in this format. Even if one is 7-0, one can turn the tables. The game can change. Of course it can go against us also, so it is going to be tricky,” said Jwala.
So, come August 14, the stars of the badminton world will be ready and waiting for the new style Indian Badminton League to take off and take the nation by storm, hoping to deliver and set the world alight with some stunning performances and displays.
Whether the new format will prove to be a hindrance, time will only tell. But one thing is for sure that like the Indian Premier League, millions of viewers around the world will be entertained! Let the games begin!