Playing in end-of-year PBL sometimes affects body says Saina Nehwal

Vastavam web: The Premier Badminton League (PBL), starting here on Saturday, is being held at the end of the year after a hectic season and at times it does affect the players’ bodies, feels star Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal. “Everyone gives their 100 per cent, that’s for sure, and wants to win. But it’s the end of the year and sometimes it gets to the body. It’s not easy for all the players. It’s one of the toughest tournaments, but everyone gives their best,” said Saina at a PBL pre-season 4 media conference here.

Saina, who would be leading North Eastern Warriors in the nine-team League, was responding to a query whether the players could replicate in the PBL the intensity with which they normally play in the Super Series events. Reigning Olympic and world women’s singles champion Carolina Marin agreed with Saina.

“The pressure is much different. For us, we have to think about team not ourselves,” said Marin who is to captain league debutantes Pune 7 Aces. National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand said the league has helped someone like Kidambi Srikanth over the last three years to improve his game at the international level. “Take for example Srikanth — the league has helped him. It has helped even (doubles players) Satviksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini (Ponappa) who got a lot of confidence after playing in it.

Atul Pande of the franchise league organisers Sportzlive (under the aegis of the Badminton Association of India) said the only window the Badminton World Federation provides them was now (in December). “In Super Series events they (players) have to play a match every day but here it’s usually once every third day. He conceded that the franchises were yet to make a profit.