Sameer Verma remained unbeaten in five matches as Mumbai Rockets registered a resounding 5-0 victory over Chennai Smashers to qualify for the semifinals of the Premier Badminton League Season 4 here Saturday. Mumbai dominated the tie right from the start by winning the first two matches through Anders Antonsen and their mixed doubles pair of Pia Bernadeth and Kim Gi Jung. Sung Ji Hyun then won Chennai’s first match of the day before Sameer Verma completed the win for the Rockets.
The Verma vs Parupalli Kashyap clash, which was the fourth rubber of the tie, was the biggest talking point of the day. With the Mumbai brigade looking up to the BWF World Tour Finals semifinalist to close out the win for the Rockets, trouble brewed for the two-time runners-up early on in Verma’s Trump match. The in-form Verma kept struggling with Kashyap’s footwork and precise placement. Just when it looked like he might get beaten for the first time this season as he trailed 12-15, 5-8, the 24-year-old got a second wind to take five points on the trot and go up to 10-8.
With the scores level at 12-12, Sameer had to dig deep into his reserves to enforce a decider. From 3-4 down, he came storming back to lead 8-4 in the third game and soon finished with a 12-15, 15-13, 15-9 win.
Earlier in the day, Mumbai’s World No. 18 Anders Antonsen oozed confidence throughout his encounter against 34th ranked Rajiv Ouseph, having upset World No. 5 Son Wan Ho in the previous match.
A strong attack helped him open up an 11-6 lead. Despite Ouseph drawing level at 14-14, the young Dane managed to hold his nerves to get the opener 15-14. The CWG bronze medallist used his deception to make it a two-point gap at 8-10 in the second game but that’s all he could do before Antonsen wrapped it up 15-14, 15-11.
In an enthralling mixed doubles rubber, Chennai’s World No. 9 pair of Chris and Gabby Adcock’s two-match winning streak was brought to an end by the Mumbai duo of Pia Bernadeth and Kim Gi Jung with a 15-14, 15-14 win.
The Adcocks, also Chennai’s Trump for the day, played catch-up in both the games. However, their efforts fell short in the end as the determined Mumbai pair was able to grab that vital golden point.
There was no surprise in the result of the next rubber. World No. 11 Sung Ji Hyun, who has scalped the likes of Carolina Marin and PV Sindhu this season, was a heavy favourite against Mumbai’s 111th ranked Anura Prabhudesai and she delivered the first win for Chennai, as expected.
The Korean’s perfect placement made life difficult for the inexperienced Prabhudesai whose unforced errors did not help her cause much. The young Mumbai girl reduced the deficit to four points with a beautiful drop at 5-9 only to see Sung get the game 15-7.
Anura kept the scores even till 5-5 in the second game after which Sung simply sailed away to a resounding 15-7, 15-8 victory. The men’s doubles pair of Kim Gi Jung and Lee Yong Dae ensured a memorable evening for Mumbai with a commanding 15-8, 15-10 win over Chennai’s Or Chin Chung and Sumeeth Reddy.
Bengaluru Raptors inch closer to semifinals as Kidambi Srikanth remains unbeaten
Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth combined to take the Bengaluru Raptors to a win over the Saina Nehwal-led North Eastern Warriors at the Premier Badminton League Season 4 here on Saturday. Saina’s scintillating performance in her Trump match could not make much of a difference to her team’s fortunes as the Warriors slumped to their second consecutive defeat.
Bengaluru skipper Srikanth took the court against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of the North Eastern franchise. The two are tied 2-2 in their head-to-head record on the international circuit and the Thai had even won their last encounter. But that mattered little as Srikanth was on song throughout this match, notching up a 15-11, 15-12 win — his fourth win in as many matches this season.
Breaking away from 6-6, the former World No. 1 did not face any more resistance from Tanongsak in the opener, except for the last few points. An attacking Srikanth then wrested the momentum from Tanongsak, who was leading 8-7, to wrap up the match. Saina’s smashes and her confidence did much of the talking in her Trump encounter against Bengaluru’s World No. 59 Vu Thi Trang, whom she had never met before.
Having lost her first match of the season to P V Sindhu, the Commonwealth Games champion was indeed determined to make a statement, which she did with consummate ease. A clinical Saina went up 8-5 and maintained her lead to get the first game 15-10. In the second, Saina upped the ante to leap to 8-6 before closing it out 15-10, 15-7.
After Saina kept her team in contention with the win, Sai Praneeth dashed whatever little hopes the Warriors had by beating Tian Houwei to complete the victory for Bengaluru. The former Singapore Open champion regrouped after losing the close first game. In the second game, he raced ahead to 12-5, refusing to give his opponent an inch of space.
The third game was absolutely one-way traffic as Sai never relented and finished off with a 12-15, 15-6, 15-7 win. Earlier in the day, Bengaluru’s former world champion pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan bounced back from a defeat in their last match to grind out a 15-14, 15-11 Trump win over the Warriors’ Liao Min Chun and Yoo Yeon Seong.
The Indonesians, who have been ranked No. 1 in the world, had to stave off a spirited challenge from the Warriors pair to take the opening game on a golden point. In the second game, the lead stayed with Chun and Seong till 10-9 after which the complexion of the match changed and the Trump pair earned with the win.
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