Posted on: August 13, 2013
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IBL: A franchise-based team event with innovative rules was targeted at drawing larger crowds

By Antara Das

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IBL: A franchise-based team event with innovative rules was targeted at drawing larger crowds

To the delight of everyone, Badminton took a big leap into the unknown on Wednesday, when a latest franchise-based team event with innovative rules targeted at drawing larger crowds opened in India.

In fact, the million-dollar Indian Badminton League (IBL) boasts of as the sport's richest event. It will be played over a fortnight between 6 city teams using a more attacking style of play designed to excite the fans. However, the event has suffered several blows even before the first shuttle was hit. Malaysian superstar Lee Chong Wei, who is the league's apex draw and the world number one, is suffering from an injury.

Remarkably, the standard two-point gap to win a game has been dumped in favor of a race to 21 points for the first two games and 11 points for the decider, if required. In addition, there will be a minute's commercial break following the 7th and 14th points in the first two games and following the 6th point in the decider.

Indian badminton great Prakash Padukone opined that the IBL is certainly the best thing to happen to Indian badminton. The former All-England champion commented that Badminton has not seen this kind of money before. He added that it will add to the popularity of the sport, apart from bringing in more money for the players. However, a lot would depend on the success of the inaugural event.

Truly, the success of popular franchised-based Twenty20 cricket event around the world has inspired copy-cat events in golf, hockey, football and tennis. Notably, Badminton teams which are owned by businesses and individuals forked out thousands of dollars at an auction last month to purchase players from India and around the world for the league. Each team, consisting four foreign players, six Indians and one forthcoming Indian junior will play on a home-and-away basis in the preliminary league, with the apex four qualifying for the semi-finals. Certainly, all ties including the 31st August final in Mumbai, will have five matches -- two men's singles, men's doubles, one each in women's singles and mixed doubles.

Former Indian coach Vimal Kumar predicted that matches will become more competitive and open with these new rules. They will definitely help those who have an attacking game.

Subsequently, former India cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar, who is a keen badminton enthusiast, is connected to the Mumbai franchise which will play against the teams from Lucknow, Pune, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Unfortunately, the IBL lost much of its glory when badminton's inspiration China declined to send its players. The newly-crowned women's world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand is missing too.

Specifically, Lin was a point away from victory at 16-21, 21-13, 20-17 when Lee forfeited the match due to harsh leg cramps and had to be assisted off the court at Guangzhou in China. Further, the IBL received a complete boost thanks to the success of Indian players in Guangzhou where P.V. Sindhu won a bronze medal and Saina Nehwal as well as Parupalli Kashyap crashed into the quarter-finals. The women's world number three, Saina Nehwal was purchased by her home team of Hyderabad for $120,000, which was second to the $135,000 dished out for Lee by Gavaskar's Mumbai franchise. Sindhu, who is a Hyderabadi like Nehwal, is supposed to play for Lucknow for $80,000, while Kashyap was selected by Bangalore for $75,000.

Former national women's champion Ami Ghia Shah remarked that she is not surprised that the focus is on Sindhu and Saina. She added that they deserve all the money and attention they can get.

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