Lowdown on Indian Badminton League

PV Sindhu will be one of the attractions at the Indian Badminton League. AP Photo
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Badminton takes a leap into the unknown on Wednesday when a new franchise-based team event with innovative rules aimed at drawing bigger crowds opens in India.

Format

Six teams (Mumbai, Pune, Luchnow, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad) will play on a home-and-away basis in the preliminary league, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals. Each team will comprise four foreign players, six Indians and one Indian junior. All ties, including the August 31 final, will have five matches – two men’s singles, and one each in women’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles.

Change in rules

The standard two-point gap to win a game has been abandoned in favour of a race to 21 points for the first two games and 11 points for the decider, if needed. There will also be a minute’s commercial break after the seventh and 14th points in the first two games and after the sixth point in the decider.

Improving the sport Parakash Padukone, the retired Indian player, said: "The Indian Badminton League is definitely the best thing to happen to Indian badminton. Badminton has not seen this kind of money before."

Problems The availability of Lee Chong Wei, the world No 1 and the tournament's main draw, is in question after he withdrew from the World Championship final on Sunday with leg cramps. China declined to send any players to compete, while the newly crowned women's world champion Ratchanok Intanon is also missing.

Encouragement The IBL received a boost thanks to the success of Indian players at the World Championships in Guangzhou, where teenager PV Sindhu won a bronze medal and Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap made it to the quarter-finals.

High fees Nehwal, the women's world No 3, was bought by her home team of Hyderabad for US$120,000 (Dh440,760), second only to the $135,000 paid for Lee by Gavaskar's Mumbai franchise. Sindhu, a Hyderabadi like Nehwal, will play for Lucknow for $80,000, while Kashyap was picked up by Bangalore for $75,000.