PBL auction 2018: Sindhu, Saina, Marin, Srikanth headline intense day

Unnikrishnan G

Bengaluru, October 8: Top of the line badminton stars like PV Sindhu, Carolina Marin and Kidambi Srikanth made big money in the Premier Badminton League (PBL) Auction 2018 held in New Delhi on Monday (October 8).

PV Sindhu, the top rated Indian woman player, joined defending champions Hyderabad Hunters for Rs 80 lakh. The biggest surprise in the PBL auction was the non-selling of Saina Nehwal in the first round. Perhaps, the franchises were skeptical about her availability since she had announced her marriage with fellow badminton star P Kashyap, who was bought by Chennai Smashers for Rs 5 lakh.

Their marriage is scheduled for December 16 while this edition of the PBL will start from October 22, running till January 13, 2019. But once confirmed of her availability, North Eastern Warriors bagged Saina, an Olympic bronze winner, for Rs 80 lakh.

The other top players who managed to touch the Rs 80 lakh mark were Kidambi Srikanth, who was bought by the Bengaluru Raptors and HS Prannoy, who was sold to the Delhi Dashers.

The top international stars who have been bought high prices include reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin (7 Aces Pune, Rs 70 lakh), ace Danish shuttler and world No 3 Viktor Axelsen (Ahmedabad Smash Masters, Rs 80 lakh), South Korea's Sung Ji Hyun (Chennai Smashes, Rs 80 lakh) and Lee Yong Dae.

India's young doubles specialist Satwiksairaj Rankireddy was snapped up by the Smash Masters after an intense bidding war. The Ahmedabad franchise paid Rs 52 lakh for the 18-yea-old's services.

Young prodigy Lkshya Sen was bought by 7 Aces Pune for Rs 11 lakh while another upcoming player Sourabh Verma was bought for Rs 16 lakh by Ahmedabad Smash Masters. 7 Aces Pune are the newest team in the PBL Auction where 145 players from 23 countries went under the hammer.

Badminton Association of India (BAI) President and PBL Chairman Himanta Biswa Sarma said ahead of the auction that the forthcoming season will be far more competitive.
"The increased interest of top players in the PBL underlines the growing stature of the tournament which has become a global brand in a short span of time. The fourth edition of the league is beckoning us and promises to be a far bigger and more competitive affair with the ninth team added to the roster," said Sarma.

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