Hyderabad: An exciting battle will be on the cards when Pune 7 Aces take on defending champions Bengaluru Raptors in the second semi-final of the fifth Premier Badminton League.
After 18 days of thrilling action, the fifth season of the League has reached the knock-out stage where North Eastern Warriors will face Chennai Superstarz in the first semi-final on Friday.
North Eastern Warriors and Pune 7 Aces are the only two teams, who made a remarkable turnaround to emerge as the strongest title contenders this season after failing to qualify for the semi-finals last year.
In 2019, Pune had failed to make it to the knockout stage by a whisker but this time Hendra Setiawan and Chirag Shetty ensured that the Aces make their intentions clear right from the start.
They are here to settle for nothing less than the trophy and their talismanic men’s doubles pair’s five wins from six appearances certainly validate that.
Young Rituparna Das’ fearlessness worked wonders for the team when she stunned World No. 14 Beiwen Zhang apart from showing her skills against Michelle Li and the Commonwealth Games champions Chris and Gabrielle Adcock too played a pivotal role in Pune’s journey.
But Pune takes on a team that started slowly only to accelerate towards the end and make their way to the top.
The Bengaluru Raptors showed exceptional resilience as they remain in the hunt for their second consecutive title.
World No. 2 Tai Tzu Ying has won all her six matches while World Championships bronze medallist Sai Praneeth has got back to winning ways to take the team into the semifinals.
With Brice Leverdez delivering for the team as well and with Olympic silver medallist Chan Peng Soon in the squad, it would be hard for anyone to topple the Season 4 champions.