Star Indian shuttlers H.S. Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth emerged as the most valuable players in the auction for the third Vodafone Premier Badminton League here on Monday. Prannoy and Srikanth were picked up by Ahmedabad Smash Masters and Awadhe Warriors and will earn a whopping Rs 62 lakh and Rs 56.1 lakh respectively.
Among others, Sameer Verma (Mumbai Rockets, Rs 52 lakh) and Ajay Jayaram (North East Warriors, Rs 45 lakh) were also very much in demand as the eight teams vie for the top honours in the 24-day league.
The country’s star women shuttlers P.V. Sindhu (Chennai Smasher, Rs 48.75 lakh) and Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal (Awadhe Warriors, Rs 41.2 lakh), were locked up in the first round itself as their old teams opted to retain them.
With the presence of Olympic champion Carolina Marin, World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying and Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, this becomes a world-class field. Among the foreign stars, Tian Houwei of China was the biggest gainer, going to Delhi Acers for Rs 58 lakh.
Chris Adcock of England (Chennai Smashers, Rs 54 lakh), Tai Tzu Ying (Ahmedabad Smash Masters, Rs 52 lakh), Wang Tzu Wei of Taiwan (North East Warriors, Rs 52 lakh), World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark (Bengaluru Blasters, Rs 50 lakh), Son Wan Ho of Korea (Mumbai Rockets, Rs 50 lakh), Lee Yong Dae of Korea (Mumbai Rockets, Rs 46.8 lakh) were the biggest buys in an action-packed auction.
Badminton Association of India (BAI) President and Chairman of PBL, Himanta Biswa Sarma, was exhilarated after the auction and said: “As expected, the auction was truly gripping. Each team looks well balanced and I won’t hazard to guess the winner. I believe any team can win the championship,”
“It was an interesting day of bidding. It was evident that each team was clear about their main targets and yet they had Plan Bs too. All the teams have returned to a strong lineup and it promises to be an exciting season,” Prasad Mangipudi, executive director of Sportzlive, the promoters of the League, said.
The 24-day league will see the eight teams, namely Delhi Acers, Mumbai Rockets, Bengaluru Blasters, Chennai Smashers, Hyderabad Hunters, North Eastern Warriors, Ahmedabad Smash Masters and Awadhe Warriors in action.