Srikanth's Raptors to take on Saina's Warriors in Ahmedabad's first double header

January 4, Ahmadabad: Bengaluru Raptors will lock horns with the eighth-placed North Eastern Warriors in a clinical fixture in the Vodafone Premier Badminton League, here tomorrow. Since their loss in their opener, the Raptors have staged a fabulous comeback to win their next two ties while the North Eastern Warriors were blanked 0-5 by the Hyderabad Hunters in their most recent outing.

Saina Nehwal did play for the first time this season, having recovered from a shin injury but it could not benefit the Warriors as PV Sindhu won that thrilling match. While Nehwal would be determined to make a statement against Bengaluru’s Thi Vu Trang after that defeat, she needs her men’s singles exponents -- Tian Houwei and Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk -- to click. Both of them had to bite the dust against the Hunters and the task would be uphill against Bengaluru’s former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth and Sai Praneeth.

Bengaluru have also been riding high on the success of their men’s doubles duo of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, who are former world champions. With a couple of victories and one close loss in three assignments, they would aim to do their bit to give the third consecutive win for the Bengaluru team.

Second-placed Mumbai Rockets to take on a resilient Chennai attack

Mumbai Rockets will hope to continue their winning streak when they take on Chennai Smashers in a blockbuster tie.With both the teams come on the back of two consecutive wins, this face-off will end the winning streak of one.

The two-time runners-up Rockets are the second-placed team on the leaderboard, with 9 wins and 7 losses which have awarded them 14 points. The presence of the BWF World Tour semi-finalist Sameer Verma in the squad has indeed worked wonders for them. The 24-year-old has simply picked up from where he left in Guangzhou and has won all three of his matches so far this season.

World No. 18 Anders Antonsen has bolstered the men’s singles department as the No. 2 player in the team. His upset of the World No. 5 Son Wan Ho in Mumbai’s last match gives a testament of his maturity and presence of mind.

Mumbai have also been able to bank on their strong doubles line-up that has Mumbai’s icon player, Lee Yong Dae, one of the legends of badminton, with a staggering 43 Superseries titles to his name. His partnership with Kim Gi Jung took some time to take shape but now they are in full flight, as validated by their winning outing against the Awadhe Warriors in their previous encounter.

"The players are confident and motivated and our aim is to secure our position and gather as many points as possible, said the Word Ranked 

Pia Bernadeth is another veteran of the game, both on the international circuit as well as the league. She played a pivotal role to take the Hyderabad Hunters to the title last season and would bring her expertise in this match too.

However, Mumbai needs to be wary of how confident the Season 2 champions are feeling right now. Chennai has shown tremendous resilience to bounce back after a poor start through both their singles and doubles. Former World No. 2 Sung Ji Hyun has upset the likes of PV Sindhu and Carolina Marin and would be the favourite in this clash, more due to the fact that Mumbai doesn’t have any top-20 player in women’s singles.

CWG bronze medallist Rajiv Ouseph has oozed brilliance the last two times he took the court for the currently fifth-placed team. Scalps of Viktor Axelsen and Brice Leverdez should encourage him to keep his winning momentum going. World No. 9 mixed doubles pair of Chris and Gaby Adcock have been magnificent so far and it would be tough for any opponent to subdue them.

Reacting to their consecutive win in Season r, Rajiv Ouseph said,"We have a very good chance to make it to the final four and we will go full gun blazing tomorrow. The players are all in good space and I am confident of a hundred per cent show from the team."  

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