World champion PV Sindhu and world number one women’s singles player – Tai Tzu Ying emerged as the top gainers during the Premier Badminton League (PBL) auction in Delhi on Tuesday. Sindhu for was retained by franchise Hyderabad Hunters for Rs 77 lakh for the fifth season of one of the most coveted Badminton league’s around the world – PBL. While the Chinese Taipei shuttler was bought by defending champions Bengaluru Raptors for the joint highest amount of Rs 77 lakh after a bidding war with the Pune 7 Aces.
Another top Indian player B Sai Praneeth was also retained by Bengaluru Raptors for Rs 32 lakh. Among other Indians who were retained by their respective franchises are men’s doubles players B Sumeeth Reddy (Rs 11 lakhs by Chennai Superstarz) and Chirag Shetty (Rs 15.50 lakhs by Pune 7 Aces).
World number 9 American women’s singles player Beiwan Zhang too has been retained by Awadhe Warriors for Rs 39 lakhs.
National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand’s daughter Gayatri Gopichand was picked up by Chennai Superstarz, while young Assamese shuttler Ashmita Chaliha was bought by her home team North Eastern Warriors for Rs 3 lakhs.
The PBL season 5 lost some sheen after London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth pulled out of the event to focus on their international careers. While Saina, who played for North Eastern Warriors in the last PBL, pulled out of the 2020 event to prepare herself for the next international season, Srikanth wanted to focus on international events ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
154 players, including Sai Praneeth, Lakshya Sen, and men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, were also part of the auction.
The next edition of PBL will see a total of 74 Indian shuttlers in action from January 20 to February 9.
Seven teams — Awadhe Warriors (Lucknow), Bengaluru Raptors (Bengaluru), Mumbai Rockets (Mumbai), Hyderabad Hunters (Hyderabad), Chennai Superstarz (Chennai), North Eastern Warriors (North East) and Pune 7 Aces (Pune) — will compete in the 21-day event to be played in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Lucknow.
Each franchise has a purse of Rs 2 crore but they cannot spend more than Rs 77 lakh for a player. The teams will comprise a maximum of six foreign players and a minimum of three female shuttlers in a squad of not more than 11.
The format of the upcoming edition of the league remains the same with each tie consisting of five matches — two men singles, one women singles, one men doubles and one mixed doubles.