Chennai Smashers will meet Mumbai Rockets in the final of the Premier Badminton League after winning their respective semifinals in New Delhi on Friday. Chennai literally smashed their way through Awadhe Warriors 4-1, with PV Sindhu beat Saina Nehwal 11-7, 11-8, while Mumbai Rockets beat Hyderabad Hunters 3-1 in the second semifinal.
In an initially see-saw tie that saw Awadhe taking the lead after mixed doubles pair Savitree Amitrapai and Bodin Isara beat Chris and Gabrielle Adcock. Parupalli Kashyap pulled things back in Chennai’s favour after breezing past W Ki Wong 11-4, 11-6 but Awadhe again took the lead after Kidambi Srikanth tamed Tommy Suigarto 14-12, 11-7.
Chennai finally were in control of the semi-final when PV Sindhu beat Saina Nehwal 11-7, 11-8 before the left-right hand combination of men’s doubles pair of Adcock and Mads Kolding proved to be too much for the right-handed duo of V Goh and Markis Kido to seal the tie.
As expected, the Sindhu-Nehwal trump match proved to be the most spectacular. The Olympic silver medallist started strong to take a two-point lead but Nehwal made it look a neck-to-neck race before Sindhu got four consecutive points to win the first game. Nehwal however kept herself in the match with body smashes, allowing her to stay on Sindhu’s heels at 6-5.
Finally breaking Nehwal’s resistance was a marathon rally of 48 shots that Sindhu won to break ahead and make it 7-5. At that time Sindhu looked on top of her game, exploiting the angles of the court Nehwal failed to. Nehwal couldn’t keep up after that — missing a return and failing to stretch out to Sindhu’s drop shot to trail further and finally lose the game.
It almost looked too easy for Chennai after that when Kolding and Adcock won the first game of the men’s doubles tie 11-3. A last-ditched effort saw Awadhe stretch the second game to 10-10 but Chennai kept their calm to sweep it 12-10 to spark huge celebrations at their bench.
Spain’s Carolina Marin of Hyderabad Hunters returns a shot to Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun of Mumbai Rockets during women’s singles second semi final at the Indian Premier Badminton League. Sung Ji Hyun won the match 6-11, 11-6, 11-5. (AP)
Marin loses trump match
Mumbai Rockets’ reached the final in a matter of two matches after World No.3 Sung Ji Hyun defeated Hyderabad Hunters’ No.2 Carolina Marin 6-11, 11-6, 11-5 in the first trump match of the second semi-final. Marin started well to take a 3-1 lead and was almost allowed to win the first game but then the South Korean came back so strongly that it changed the complexion of the match.
Sung took a 5-0 lead in the second game before Marin got three points in a row but the South Korean held off her opponent to take the match into a decider. It looked anybody’s match till the score was 2-2. But then Marin couldn’t find any answer to the winners Sung started producing, eventually losing to her for the second time in this tournament. Already in the negative, Hyderabad then lost the second trump match as HS Prannoy beat Sameer Verma 11-8, 15-13 to give Mumbai an unassailable four-point lead.