Pune, Dec 31:
Kidambi Srikanth notched up a thrilling win over Ajay Jayaram as Bengaluru Raptors edged out Pune 7 Aces 4-3 in a Premier Badminton League (PBL) match here Sunday.
Jayaram had never beaten Srikanth in four meetings on the BWF circuit. But that mattered little initially, considering the thunderous start that he made to the match which was Bengaluru’s Trump for the night.
There was no hint of the hamstring injury that derailed Jayaram for a good part of the last one year. Gliding beautifully around the court, the Pune man produced superb smashes to take the opener 15-10.
Srikanth rebounded in the second, riding on an array of attacking shots. Even though a late surge from Jayaram brought him back to 9-12, Srikanth managed to pocket the game 15-12.
The enthralling decider witnessed a spectacular effort from Jayaram as he made it 14-14 but Srikanth was able to sneak through by taking the golden point and with it, the Trump win 10-15, 15-12, 15-14.
In the women’s singles rubber, Pune skipper and icon player Carolina Marin was irrepressible in their Trump match against the 59th ranked Vu Thi Trang, a player she had never met before in any competition.
Using her lefty crosscourt smashes to perfection, the three-time world champion kept attacking her opponent’s backhand wing ruthlessly.
The Spaniard refused to relent and was in charge throughout the match, building up a 7-3 lead in the first game before closing it out 15-8.
The Vietnamese had absolutely no clue how to stop the lethal Marin even in the second game.
The Spanish juggernaut continued to roll uninterruptedly, opening up an 11-5 lead to take the 15-8, 15-5 win in Pune’s Trump match.
Earlier, two-time former world champion pair of Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan gave Raptors a perfect start, defeating Pune’s Chirag Shetty and Vladimir Ivanov 15-12, 15-11 in men’s doubles.
In the deciding men’s singles match, B Sai Praneeth defeated Lakshya Sen 15-9 15-13 to wrap the contest in Bengaluru’s favour.
Chennai Smashers thrash Ahmedabad
Former champions Chennai Smashers produced a flawless performance to hand table toppers Ahmedabad Smash Masters an embarrassing 6-(-1) defeat in a Premier Badminton League season four match here Sunday.
Season 2 champions Chennai, who were drubbed by Hyderabad Hunters in their previous match, thus registered their first win in the fourth season of the tournament.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Rajeev Ouseph upset Ahmedabad Trump Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and former World No. 2 Sung Ji Hyun won the Chennai Trump clash with Kirsty Gilmour of Scotland to inflict the first defeat of the season on the Smash Masters.
Ouseph’s huge win over former world champion Axelsen denied any hope of a comeback for the Smash Masters, who lost all the five matches of the tie.
Axelsen struggled to retrieve his shots and lacked his usual firepower and conviction, conceding the opener 12-15.
Ouseph might have felt a bit complacent after that strong start for he let a string of errors creep into his game which allowed the Dane to come back and take the second game effortlessly 15- 7.
In a riveting decider, the two were tied till 11-11 following which the Chennai man upped the intensity of his attack with his brutal down-the-line smashes.
With Axelsen looking very weary, it was just a matter of time before Ouseph completed the memorable 15-12, 7-15, 15-13 victory.
Chennai’s icon player Sung Ji Hyun continued the momentum to put her team on the path of a commanding win. The Korean had mastered Gilmour twice on the world tour and that too, in straight games.