There was intense bidding for India's men's doubles poster boy, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who won the Thailand Open in August alongside Chirag Shetty.
World champion P V Sindhu, was on Tuesday retained by Hyderabad Hunters for Rs 77 lakh in the auction for the fifth season of the Premier Badminton League here. World number 1 women’s singles player Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei was also bought for joint highest amount of Rs 77 lakh by defending champions Bengaluru Raptors after a bidding war with the Pune 7 Aces. There was intense bidding for India’s men’s doubles poster boy, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who won the Thailand Open in August alongside Chirag Shetty. The 19-year-old eventually went to the Chennai Superstarz for a whopping Rs 62 lakhs. “I am really happy to be a part of the Chennai team. I have many friends in Chennai and I am looking forward to play there.
Every time we have played here the crowd has been exceptional and to represent them this season will surely be something that I am looking forward to,” said Rankireddy. Korea’s world no. 22 doubles ace Ko Sung Hyun and Hong Kong’s world no. 24 singles exponent Lee Cheuk Yiu were the only other shuttlers to cross the Rs 50 lakh mark as the former went to Awadhe Warriors for Rs 55 lakhs while the latter was purchased by the North Eastern Warriors for Rs 50 lakhs. 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap was the next costliest Indian shuttler to be sold to Mumbai Rockets for Rs 43 lakhs while Lakshya Sen, who won four titles in the past two months, will turn out for Chennai colours after the Season 2 champions purchased him for Rs 36 lakhs. Another top Indian player B Sai Praneeth was also retained by Benagluru 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 15.5 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 for Rs 2 lakh, 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. Among the seven teams vying for the PBL 5 trophy, title holders Bengaluru Raptors and Awadhe Warriors exhausted their entire purse of Rs 2 crores while Pune 7 Aces saved Rs 23.5 lakhs.
Pune and Chennai were the only teams to reach the maximum quota of 11 as 71 players were picked from a pool of 154 players at the end of the auction. 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.