Delhi: HS Prannoy continued his unbeaten streak in the Premier Badminton League as Ahmedabad Smashers defeated Hyderabad Hunters 4-3 in a thriller to win their second successive match and go to top of the table.
World No. 10 and Ahmedabad’s trump player Prannoy saw aside compatriot B Sai Praneeth 15-10, 15-8 in straight sets to give his side two points and seal the victory.
The reigning national champion was unstoppable playing with his usual flamboyance to take a healthy lead of 6-2 in the opening set. But the Singapore Open champion Praneeth bounced back with six straight points to go with a lead at the break. It was however the same as play resumed, with Prannoy once again dominating the proceedings. Standing at 14-10, the game was all but over and all Praneeth could do was to delay the inevitable, before Prannoy took the next point to seal it 15-11.
The second game was much more difficult for the 16th ranked countrymen as he found it hard to tackle Prannoy’s clever net play combined with power smashes to eventually go down 15-8 in a lop-sided battle.
Earlier the Hunters got off to a flying start in the opening game and left their opponents running for cover as their powerplay was too much to handle for the Ahmedabad duo. They hardly broke a sweat and danced their way a 15-4 win in the opening game.
However the Smashers’ duo of Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Lee Chun Hei Reginald came back from a game down to beat the Hyderabad pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Pia Zebediah Bernadeth 4-15, 15-12, 15-8 and give their side an admissible 1-0 lead.
Confident from the first set win the Hunters pair started from where they had left and soon took a 3-0 lead in the second set as well. But just when it looked like they would ran out comfortable winners, the Smasher’s duo of Kamilla/Chun launched a series of attacks to win the next three points and level the scores. It was just the beginning as Ahmedabad slowly gained momentum to go into the break with a slender lead of one point.
Building on from there, the Smashers won the second set 15-12 to take the game into decider before putting up a dominating performance to eventually the seal the game with a third set 15-8 win.
1-0 down after a opening game thriller, World No.18, Lee Hyun Il of Korea brushed aside India’s Sourabh Verma to restore parity for the Hunters. The Korean veteran looked in sublime form as he raced past his opponent 15-9 in the opening set without much difficulty. Sourabh though forced his way in the second set, but could not mount enough challenge as the 2017 Denmark Open runner-up whisked away to seal the deal 15-11.
Their joy didn’t last long though as Women’s World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei soon increased Ahmedabad’s lead in the very next match with a comfortable victory over Rasika Raje. The young Indian who had replaced World No.4 Carolina Marin in the playing squad looked completely out of sorts and was no match against the 2017 Hong Kong Open winner and went 5-15,6-15 in a meek fashion.
With the match result already out of their hands after Prannoy outclassed compatriot Praneeth to give his side an additional point, the Hunters won the final match to decrease the defecit to 3-4.
The men’s doubles which was also a trump match for the Hunters was won by the experienced duo of Markis Kido and Yoo Yeon Seong who eased past Kidambi Nandagopal and Lee Chun Hei Reginald of the Ahmedabad Smashers 15-14,15-11 without much difficulty.
1) XD – Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Lee Chun Hei bt Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Pia Zebediah Bernadeth – 4-15, 15-12, 15-8
2) MS – Lee Hyun Il bt Sourabh Verma 15-9,15-11
3) WS – Tai Tzu Ying bt Rasika Raje – 15-5, 15-6
4) MS – H.S Prannoy [T] bt Sai Praneeth – 15-10,15-8
5) MD – Kidambi Nandagopal/Lee Chun Hei Reginald lost to Markis Kido/Ypp Yeon Seong [T] – 15-14, 15-11