Bengaluru, Jan. 9:
Bengaluru Raptors’ skipper Kidambi Srikanth led from the front against Mumbai Rockets to keep his team in the hunt for a semi-final berth at the Premier Badminton League Season 4 here on Tuesday.
Bengaluru needed a minimum of four points to move into the top 4 and they were successful in their attempt as they won the first three matches, including a Trump, to knock the Pune 7 Aces out at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium.
World No. 18 Anders Antonsen of Mumbai put up a brilliant performance against an unbeaten Srikanth but fell short at the end in each game as the former World No. 1 sealed a narrow 15-14, 15-13 victory.
Ten ranking places separate World No. 8 Srikanth and the Dane but Antonsen refused to let that matter.
With an array of body smashes, Srikanth went up to 8-5 but Antonsen came storming back to 9-9. With the two tied at 13-13, the Dane made it 14-13 and had a game point which Srikanth erased with aplomb by taking the next two points.
The second game turned out to be as competitive as the first one. Both of them resorted to aggressive display and were even till 13-13 until Srikanth made one last push to secure the win.
Earlier in the day, Bengaluru always had the upper hand in women’s singles. World No. 59 Vu Thi Trang of the Raptors had never met Mumbai’s 202nd ranked Shreyanshi Pardeshi on the international circuit, and her experience was definitely her asset.
The Vietnamese, also the Raptors’ Trump for the night, absolutely blew away the young Indian in the first game 15-4.
However, Pardeshi refused to be intimidated and pocketed the second game 15-11 only to see Vu find her game for a 15-4, 11-15, 15-7 win.
With former men’s doubles world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan being in the line-up, the Raptors had every right to feel confident against the Mumbai duo of Lee Yong Dae and Kim Gi Jung.
Having triumphed thrice in four outings so far, the Indonesians had the edge and they wrapped it up in straight games, winning 15-11, 15-11.
The Mumbai pair stayed close on their heels in the first game, trailing by just a solitary point at 10-11. But a string of unforced errors dashed all their hopes.