Bangalore Raptors beat Chennai Smashers, enter semifinals

Bengaluru, Jan. 11:
A day before facing the table toppers Awadhe Warriors in the semi-finals, the Bengaluru Raptors got a huge boost of confidence by beating former champions Chennai Smashers 3-2 in front of their home crowd at the Vodafone Premier Badminton League Season 4 at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, here on Thursday.
Bengaluru skipper Kidambi Srikanth recorded his sixth win in as many matches and Sai Praneeth contributed as well to help Bengaluru dethrone the Mumbai Rockets from the third spot as the league stage came to an end.
While the Raptors were drawn to face the Awadhe Warriors on the first day of the semi-finals, defending champions Hyderabad Hunters will take on two-time runners-up Mumbai Rockets in the second semi-final on Saturday.
With the in-form Son Wan Ho in their line-up, the Warriors will pose some serious threat for last season’s runners-up Bengaluru. PV Sindhu, meanwhile, will try her best to inspire the Hunters when they meet the Lee Yong Dae and Sameer Verma-led Rockets.
Bangalore lost their first match of the night, but roared back into the contention by winning Chennai’s trump match, which put an end to their quest to qualify for the semifinals as getting six points in the tie became impossible.
After losing the first match, Bangalore came back strongly by winning Chennai’s trump match 15-11 and 15-12.
Sai Praneeth managed to pull off a victory even as P Kashyap went down fighting. He played a waiting game and pounced on the opportunities dished out by Kashyap to send him packing in a jiffy.
The win ensured Bangalore a place in the semifinal after Sai Praneeth sealed the match by making P Kashyap to go for a wide dropshot in the second game. This also brought to end Chennai’s hopes of qualifying into semifinals as they needed sx points from the tie.
Earlier, the hosts were off to a dreadful start as they lost their first match of the evening to Chennai’s doubles pair Chrish Ascock and Chin Chung Or in an entralling contest against Bangalore’s Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, who are former doubles world champions.
After pocketing the first match, Bangalore lost next two matches as they failed to capitalise on the lead given by Ahsan and Setiawan.
Chennai sealed the match 14-15, 15-9 and 15-11 after Chris smashed into Setiawan’s body for the final point.
Maintaining his winning streak this season, Kidambi Srikanth won the third and the team’s trump match 15-10, 15-10 for Bangalore without breaking much sweat as he defeated Chong Wei Feng, taking the home side 2-1 up in the tie.
Spectators witnessed a high-level contest in the fourth match as Vu Thi lost to Chennai’s J H Sung 10-15, 15-14 and 10-15. Both gave their best, but Sung did well to make her way to the victory post.
Sung won the first game by keeping het cool, but lost the second game after Thi made a good comeback to equalise 1-1 with some lovely shots which mesmerised her rival.
In the deciding game, Sung completed her cent per cent record this season.
In the last match of the tie, mixed doubles pair Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock of Chennai defeated Bangalore’’s Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith 8-15,, 15-10 and 15-4.
Chennai were out of contention for semifinal berth, but Chris did not give up and made Bangalore pair to sweat it out for every point.
The pair won the first game but lost the second 12-15, where spectators also saw a 29-shot rally, with fantastic display of reflexes on the court and swift in returns. Chennai won the decider easily.

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