The upcoming edition of the Premier Badminton League will be a nine-team affair after Bollywood star Taapsee Pannu on Friday bought a new franchise that will be based out of Pune.

Sources said the new team will be called Pune Seven Aces, and as of now will be owned by Pannu and management firm KRI.

The fifth season of PBL will take place from December 22 to January 13, with the opening ceremony to be held in Mumbai. The players auction will be held on Monday.

Badminton circles have been abuzz with Pannu’s growing interest in the sport ever since she started dating Denmark’s doubles specialist Mathias Boe.

“I have played quite a bit of badminton in my early days and have a special liking for the game,” Pannu was quoted in a release. “I always wanted to associate myself with the game in a big way and I have found the perfect avenue to express my passion through the League. I am confident that Pune Seven Aces will be a team to reckon with.”

PBL 4 Ready Reckoner

Teams 9
Venues Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru
Dates December 22nd to January 13th 2019
Broadcasters Star Sports and Hotstar
Format Best of three games, 15 points each
No of ties/No of matches per tie 30/5
Prize money Winners: Rs 6 crore; Runners-up: Rs 1.5 crore; 3rd and 4th place: Rs 75 lakh

This will be the second time that a Pune-based franchise would be part of the badminton league. In the inaugural edition, called the Indian Badminton League, the team was owned by Dabur Group promoters Mohit Burman and was named Pune Piston.

Among the other teams, the Bengaluru franchise will have a new owner and will be rechristened Bengaluru Raptors. The team, previously known as Bengaluru Blasters and part-owned by Sachin Tendulkar among others, finished runners-up in the last edition. The Mumbai franchise – Mumbai Rockets – will remain with the league for now.

Badminton Association India (BAI) President and Chairman Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The number of people getting inclined towards badminton in this country has witnessed a steep rise in the last few years. PBL especially has been instrumental for such a development. The League started off with six teams in Season 1 and now we have nine franchisees within a span of three years, which is an incredible feat.”