CHENNAI: Even as one racquet sport leaves the city, another one is coming to Chennai. The Chennai Open may have found a new name and a new home from next year and the same can be said for the Pro Badminton League (PBL) — which will finally come to the city after two near misses.
The semifinals and final of the upcoming edition of the franchise league will indeed be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium (it recently hosted the Pro Kabaddi League), a Chennai Smashers source confirmed to Express.
The venue was penciled in to host the knockout stages when PBL organisers unveiled the new season in August but they were yet to formally receive an in-principle approval from the State government. That point had, internally, raised a few red flags as the Smashers had never played at their home. In the first two seasons (2016 and 2017), they were forced to play their home matches in other states because of one reason or another. This time, though, PV Sindhu & Co, if they do qualify for the semifinals, will get to play in front of their home crowd.
“We did get the approval (from the concerned authorities) around 25 days ago,” the source added. The 2018 edition begins on December 23 and culminates with the final on January 14.
While two new franchises have joined the fold — Guwahati and Ahmedabad — only four of the eight cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai) will host matches this year. Smashers host the final on account of them being the defending champions.
At the recently held closed-door auctions, HS Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth emerged as the costliest buys. While Prannoy was picked up by Ahmedabad Smash Masters for Rs 62 lakh, Awadhe Warriors bought Srikanth for Rs 56.1 lakh.