Lucknow, January 26: After a fabulous start to their campaign at the Premier Badminton League 2020, Pune 7 Aces will look to carry their sterling form into their clash with Bengaluru Raptors here at the Babu Banarasi Das Badminton Academy on Monday (January 27).
Chirag Shetty-Hendra Setiawan, Rituparna Das and Loh Kean Yew, as well as the Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning pair of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock, showed remarkable resolve to guide the Pune team to a commanding 5-2 win over Mumbai Rockets in a highly entertaining Maharashtra derby on Saturday (January 25).
Shetty's partnership with the reigning world champion Hendra Setiawan was one of the biggest highlights of their victory. In a fantastic show of resilience, the two came back to register a 14-15, 15-5, 15-6 win over two-time World Championships bronze medallists Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang.
Former national champion Rituparna Das also stormed back from a slow start to take the Aces to victory over rising star Shriyanshi Pardeshi before 2019 Thailand Masters champion Loh Kean Yew and the Adcocks contributed heavily to Pune's cause.
Pune looks absolutely a well-oiled machine which has figured out their combinations well this time as they set sights on holding the PBL trophy aloft for the first time.
"With the superb win that we achieved in our first match, we are high on confidence. It has been a fabulous team effort. Playing alongside Hendra Setiawan has been a great learning experience for me and I am happy to have contributed to Pune's win," said the Thailand Open champion Shetty.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Bengaluru Raptors team. Their title defence hasn't got off to the start they would have liked. The Raptors have lost both their matches so far to the North Eastern Warriors and the Chennai Superstarz.
World Championships bronze medallist Sai Praneeth's losses have hurt the team's chances badly although they can bank on World No. 2 Tai Tzu Ying, who has a flawless 2-0 record so far in the fifth edition of PBL.
"It's still in the early stages and we are confident of making a comeback. Both our losses have been very close and it is only about remaining calm under pressure. We hope to turn the tables in our next match," said the former World No. 1.
Sai has never met the World No. 36 Loh Kean Yew on the BWF World Tour and it would be a real test of grit and hunger when the two potentially lock horns as the Raptors look to turn around their fortunes. Bengaluru would also be hoping to ride on the great form shown by its mixed doubles pair of Chan Peng Soon and Eon Hye Won, who triumphed in both their outings so far.