Hyderabad Hunters will count on their star power, led by former World No. 1 Lee Hyun Il, Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin and feared doubles player Yoo Yeon Seong, to win this edition of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League (PBL), Indian B. Sai Praneeth said on Tuesday.
"With Lee Hyun Il, (Yoo Yeon) Seong and Marin, we have the strongest team on paper," Sai Praneeth, who will lead the Hunters' charge in the men's singles, said.
"We know our stars will shine on the court and we are looking at making it first to the semi-finals and then the final," he added.
The bigger and grander PBL, with two more teams in the fray, begins in Guwahati on December 23 with Hyderabad's exports to Chennai Smashers (PV Sindhu) and Awadhe Warriors (Saina Nehwal) set to open the league on a highly-charged note.
"I am very happy to be a part of the Hunters team for the second time in a row and will give my best on the court to have the Hyderabad crowd watch their home team during the semi-final and final stage of the tournament," he added.
After narrowly losing out in the semi-finals last year to the Mumbai Rockets, the Hyderabad based franchisee has brought in the expertise of former Olympic gold medallist and World Champion Markis Kido along with Yoo Yeon Seong in the doubles category whereas Lee Hyun Il will feature in the singles category alongside Sai Praneeth.
Rajendra Kumar, the coach of the Hyderabad team, is optimistic about the balance of the team this time around and feels they have an upper hand with the number of options they have in the doubles section.
"We have loads of options in the doubles category and I am sure we can gain an advantage over the other teams if we play it right," the coach explained.
"Yes, the semi-final loss from last year still haunts us, but we are positive to make it past the group stages as we take it one game at a time and keep bringing in the desired results," he added.
Meanwhile, in a bid to give more exposure to youngsters, Hunters owner VRK Rao disclosed that they will be organising a camp for the youngsters which will give them an opportunity to meet the stars of Indian badminton.
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