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PBL: Pune 7 Aces look to continue winning streak
Hyderabad, Jan 31 - Riding on the high of their big 5-2 win over table toppers Chennai Superstarz, Pune 7 Aces will aim for their fourth win in a row as they meet North Eastern Warriors in the first tie of the second double header of Star Sports Premier Badminton League 2020 at the GMC Balayogi Sats Indoor Stadium here on Saturday. In the second tie of the day, Chennai will hope to bounce back against Awadhe Warriors who will open their final leg.
Pune's strength lies in an absolutely well-knit squad which has shown remarkable guts under pressure. Of mention is the men's doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Hendra Setiawan who have remained unbeaten so far in three outings. Shetty's smooth chemistry with the world champion was evident especially in their most recent win over the Chennai team's Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Sumeeth Reddy.
"I am thoroughly enjoying my time at Pune 7 Aces where all players share a healthy camaraderie. The team is in a really good place right now and we are confident of getting a win," said Setiawan.
2019 Thailand Masters champion Loh Kean Yew has also been a valuable asset for the team. Commonwealth Games gold medallists Chris and Gabrielle Adcock have delivered each time they have appeared for Pune and would be the key as they aim to displace the Superstarz from the top position in the league standings.
The Guwahati-based franchise has two wins from four ties so far. World No. 10 Michelle Li got back-to-back victories in the Hyderabad leg with one of the wins coming against world champion PV Sindhu. Brimming with confidence, the Canadian would be looking to continue her sterling form as will Indonesia Masters semi-finalist Lee Cheuk Yiu.
The legendary Lee Yong Dae's partnership with Kim Ha Na was instrumental in guiding the Warriors to a victory against Mumbai Rockets and it would be a treat for the badminton fans to watch them clash with the in-form Adcocks.
The Superstarz, meanwhile, will be keen to get back to winning ways after tasting their first loss of the season. The team would be looking up to Satwik to show the conviction he had begun the fifth season with. The Thailand Open champion suffered his first men's doubles defeat in three outings and would be hungry for a win and so will the young Lakshya Sen, who is also coming from his first loss of the season. Kirsty Gilmour's form would also be crucial for Chennai.
The Beiwen Zhang-led Awadhe Warriors put up a devastating performance in their final match in Lucknow, inflicting a 5-0 win over Mumbai Rockets. Wong Wing Ki Vincent sizzled in both the matches they played at home while Subhankar Dey and Ajay Jayaram have both contributed wins for the team so far.
"Finishing the home leg with a big win boosted our confidence and we are keen to continue that form against table toppers Chennai. It won't be easy but we are ready for the challenge," said Dey.
Awadhe's World No. 24 men's doubles pair of Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol are yet to lose and could be the difference-maker as the Lucknow-based franchise aims for its third win in four ties.
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