It was 14th January, a bright Sunday. While many climbed to roof tops and were busy flying kites, I had other plans. I’m an ardent follower of sports, be it Cricket or Tennis. However, last Sunday I got a chance to witness something else. A sport that I’ve played many a times but never viewed a live match. It was time to watch a Badminton Match live, that too the final match of Vodafone Premier Badminton League 2018. Top seeded players Viktor Axelsen and Carolina Marin were heading the two teams, Bengaluru Blasters and Hyderabad Hunters respectively. Apart from the players themselves, there was Cheeka who stole the limelight before the match kicked off. Wonder who Cheeka is ? Read on to find out.
Vodafone’s Cheeka comes alive with Augmented Reality
The spectators and TV viewers were in for a treat before the match. Cheeka – the famous Vodafone Pug – was all over the court in a new avatar stunning the viewers. Country’s leading telecom service provider Vodafone achieved a rare feat of bringing augmented reality to Indian television for the first time ever. There were a handful of Vodafone Pugs roaming along the court as the commentators interacted with them. Vodafone has been working tirelessly to strengthen their data network by adding more towers. And this was idea behind having the Augmented Cheeka on the court – showcasing how Vodafone has been strengthening their networks – from one pug to a pack of pugs ! Aren’t they just adorable ?
Hyderabad Hunters win the PBL 2018
This was my first ever experience of watching and indoor match live, the crowd was too loud. Not of the level of a cricket match though. After the Augmented Cheeka took a stroll, it was time for the teams to take the court. First it was the Hyderabad Hunters coming in led by their captain Carolina Marin followed by the Bengaluru Blasters team lead by Viktor Axelsen. I was so excited to see Marin play live, a dream come true. She’s one of the best women shuttlers in the current era and watching her play live was a different feeling all together.
It was time for the trump match for Hyderabad and it was Lee Hyun who dished out some great shots which were too hot to handle for the Blasters, match levelled at 1-1. The next match was a trump match for the Blasters and the captain Axelsen took to the court. And boy, the shots he played ! No wonder he’s the No.1 player currently. Close match with Praneeth, but Axelsen had the last laugh. With every shot I was looking at Marin who was at her animated best.
Next in line was the match that I had been waiting for – the women’s single. And it was time for Marin to take the centre court. The match started with a Vodafone Super Rally as the player were engaged in a neck to neck battle. But soon it turned to be one way traffic as Marin took the match. With only one match to go, both teams were tied at 2-2 each. With that scoreline, the match was surely worthy of a final.
The last match was the Mixed doubles and was possibly the most closely fought match of the evening. Both the teams were aware that it was their last chance to win the final. The match swung like a pendulum and we truly enjoyed the thrilling experience. The first set was won by Hyderabad Hunters 15-11. Not long, they came in with an astounding performance to take the second set 15-12 and the match too. Yes, Hyderabad had done it. Their first ever Vodafone Badminton Premier League title and truly deserved.
Action and Augmented Reality at PBL 2018 final
The final was all about action and augmented reality. First it was Cheeka who surprised all of us followed by the players who left us spellbound with their amazing shuttling skills. I was lucky to have found myself in one of the best spots in the evening – the President Box. I had the pleasure of seeing the Governor and PV Sindhu who were seated few rows in front of me. Overall, it was an amazing experience for me. What do you think about the Vodafone’s Augmented take on the famous pug ? I totally loved it. Share your views in the comment below or tweet to me at @Atulmaahraj #BeSuper