Hyderabad, Dec 26 (IANS) The North Eastern Warriors (NEW) will look to turn their fortunes around when skipper Saina Nehwal takes the court for the first time in the 4th Vodafone Premier Badminton League (PBL) against Mumbai Rockets here on Thursday.
With a close 2-3 win-loss record out of the five ties in their last fixture, the Warriors, led by India’s first woman to win an Olympic bronze Saina Nehwal, will be looking to unleash their firepower when they take on the Mumbai Rockets, the second placed on the leaderboard with five points.
If she provides the start that NEW wants, it will be a great inspiration to the players following her.
“It wasn’t the start that we were expecting, but we drew satisfaction from the success of Rituparna when she beat Kirsty Gilmore, a top 50 ranked player and Tian backing with a brilliant game. We are confident of a fresh start as the team has regrouped and we aim to have the first win tomorrow,” a confident Saina said.
“I had not played the last match, but I am practising and moving well on the court, so will do whatever is best possible for the team’s success,” she added.
Without a doubt, Saina will want Chinese Tian Houwei, the winner of China Masters Open who made his debut last year against Delhi Dashers, to do his part as well as he did the other night in Mumbai. His value addition of this veteran will definitely add to the firepower in men singles.
Tanongsak Sansomboonsuk, the first Thai shuttler to win a Superseries, has loads of experience and credentials — seven SEA Games medals and the 2010 Asian Games bronze medal in his swelling kitty — to do a thorough job in singles.
NEW also has a good mix of doubles players in Kim Ha Na – she won her first title in India Open in 20112. The silver medal winner at the Incheon Games in 2014 is a tricky customer and possesses the strokes and guile of a mixed doubles pair to outdo the best in business. After having had a quiet year, she will look to prove her worth.
South Korean stalwart Yoo Yeon Seong was a vital cog in the title-winning efforts of Hyderabad Hunters last season. He brings in not only the experience but also a big boost to Warriors’ doubles lineup and the PBL veteran will look to make his experience count along with Liao Min Chun, the 2014 Games bronze winner. The Taiwanese, a star attraction in the lineup, with his experience can provide the edge that NE Warriors needs.
But Mumbai Rockets do have a solid attack to counter the Warriors with the likes of Le Yong Dae and Sameer Verma in doubles and singles respectively will look for their second win.
In addition, they have proved themselves to be a tough team, having been the runners-up in Season 1 and 2. The only disadvantage could be that they will be playing the Saina-led New Warriors for the first time as they didn’t meet them in Season 3.
The momentum is certainly with Mumbai Rockets and Sameer Verma agrees that they will look to keep it going till the end of the season.
“We had a good start and it will be critical that we get a good start here too against the North East. It will be important that we continue the winning momentum,” Verma said.