Hyderabad: Top Indian shuttlers HS Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth emerged as the costliest buys in the Premier Badminton League auctions on Monday, which saw as many as 133 players go under the hammer. While Awadhe Warriors used the ‘right to match card’ at Rs. 56.1 lakh for Srikanth, Ahmedabad Smash Masters had to spend a whopping Rs. 62 lakh for the services of HS Prannoy. Women shuttlers PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal both were retained by their respective franchises also received a 25% hike in their salaries.
According to the new rules, each retained player will get 25 percent hike in his/her salary from the previous year, while players who are bought by using the ‘Right-To-Match’ card will earn a 10 percent increase from last year’s selling price.
Thus, defending champions Chennai Smashers who purchased Rio Olympics silver medalist Sindhu for Rs. 39 lakh in the previous season, retained the 22-year-old for Rs. 48. 75 lakh. On the other hand Saina Nehwal who was bought by Awadhe Warriors for a price of Rs. 33 lakh had to shell out Rs. 41. 25 lakh to retain the World Championships bronze medalist.
Prannoy, who became the costliest buy was quite surprised when he learned about the price he had fetched. “I am really surprised. I did not expect such a huge jump,” said Prannoy at a press conference.
He also added, “I thought I might go for Rs 10 or 15 lakh more but this is amazing. I am really happy to be part of Ahmedabad Smash Masters and I am looking forward to the new season.”
Other top Indian shuttlers such as Sameer Verma (Mumbai Rockets; Rs 52 lakh) and Ajay Jayaram (North East Warriors Rs 45 lakh) also fetched high prices in the auction. US Open finalists, Parupalli Kashyap was bought by Awadhe Warriors for 20 lakh.
Meanwhile, World number one Tai Tzu Ying, one of the nine icons was the first to go under the hammer and was subsequently bought by Ahmadabad Smash Masters for Rs. 52 lakh. Rio Olympics gold medalist Carolina Marin was bought by Hyderabad Hunters for her base price of Rs. 50 lakh.
In the men’s category, newly crowned world champion Viktor Axelsen was bought by his old team Bengaluru Blasters for Rs 50 lakh, while Delhi Acers bought the duo of world No 2 Son Wan Ho and No 5 Sung Ji-hyun for Rs. 50 lakh each.
World number 10 Chinese Taipei’s Tzu Wei Wang was bought by North Eastern Warriors for Rs 52 lakh and will be their icon player for this season.
In the double category, Olympics silver medalist Christinna Pedersen, became the most expensive doubles player after she was picked up by Awadhe Warriors for Rs 42 lakh. While, her partner Kamilla Rytter Juhl went to Ahmedabad Smash Masters for Rs 35 lakh.
Top ranked India’s doubles shuttler Ashwini Ponnappa was bought by Delhi Acers for Rs 20 lakh, while Manu Attri was picked by Bengaluru Blasters for Rs 17 lakh.
India’s top mixed doubles player, Pranaav Jerry Chopra, was picked by Delhi Acers for Rs 18 lakh. Delhi also bought young doubles player Arathi Sara Sunil for Rs. 3 lakh.
The total number of players each franchise can have is 11, with a maximum of five foreign players and a minimum of three women players. The league is set to run for 24 days in five different cities – Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Chennai and Guwahati.