PBL 2018-19: Kidambi Srikanth beats Ajay Jayaram to power Raptors to win; Smashers hand leaders Smash Masters 6-(-1) defeat
Bengaluru Raptors' Kidambi Srikanth rebounded in the second game, 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.
Pune: 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, after Chennai Smashers produced a flawless performance to hand table toppers Ahmedabad Smash Masters an embarrassing 6-(-1) defeat on 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.
— PBL India (@PBLIndiaLive) December 30, 2018
In the women's singles rubber, Pune skipper and icon player Carolina Marin was irrepressible in the trump match against the 59th ranked Vu Thi Trang, a player she had never met before in any competition. Using her lefty cross-court 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 shuttler 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.
But Ivanov made up for the loss in the mixed doubles rubber thanks to his deadly smashes that crushed the Commonwealth Games silver medallists Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith of Bengaluru.
Ivanov and Line Kjaersfeldt showed fantastic chemistry to grab a 15-13, 15-9 win for the Pune franchise.
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.
Earlier, 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.
It was no exception on Sunday as she smartly kept manoeuvring the Scot to open up the court and finished the points with her sharp cross-court smashes.
The World No. 11 hardly faced any resistance in the 15-11, 15-9 win that turned out to be the easiest victory of the day for the yellow brigade.
Earlier, birthday boy Sourabh Verma lost his opening men's singles match to Chennai's Chong Wei Feng in a stunning comeback show by the Malaysian.
Verma's deceptions made life difficult for Chong in the first game but he remained unfazed and injected more pace and power into his shots to set up a decider in a close second game.
In the third game, the southpaw used his lefty shots to his advantage to take the game away from an erratic Sourabh for an 8-15, 15-14, 15-9 win.
In the mixed doubles rubber, World No. 9 pair of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock came back from an 11-13 deficit to beat Ahmedabad's Sikki Reddy and Satwiksairaj 15-14, 15-13.
Sumeeth Reddy and Adcock finished the tie with a fabulous 15-11, 15-12 win over Ahmedabad's Rankireddy and Lee Chun Hei Reginald, thus ensuring six points from the tie.
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