- Smashers defeated Rockets 4-3 to win their maiden Premier Badminton League title.
- PV Sindhu continued her superb form beating world no 3 Sung-Ji Hyun 11-8, 11-8.
- Mumbai had to remain satisfied being the runners-up second year in a row.
Chennai Smashers team members pose with the trophy after winning the Premier Badminton League. (AP Photo)
With both the teams winning two matches each, the final match of the night between Ajay Jayaram of Mumbai and Tanongsak S of Chennai became the title clash. The contest followed the script, stretching to three games as Tanongsak maintained his calm to seal a 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 win.
Both teams won their trump matches with Mumbai, the 2016 finalists, launching a superb comeback after they had lost the opening two matches.
In the opener, Chennai punted on their mixed doubles pair of Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock from England as their trump match. They went into the lead at the break after a clever return from Gabrielle made it 6-5 and the pair won a close first game 11-9 in a see-saw battle. But the Adcock pair stamped their authority over the Mumbai pair of Nipitphon Puangpuapech-Nadiezda Zieba in the second game. They were trailing 5-6 at the break, on resumption they outclassed their opponent with lightning speed play, winning six straight points to seal the tie 11-6. By virtue of their trump match win, Chennai took an important 2-0 lead.
Then in the second rubber, PV Sindhu continued her superb form beating world no 3 Sung-Ji Hyun 11-8, 11-8 to give Chennai Smashers 3-0 lead in the contest. With a capacity crowd backing her to the hilt, Sindhu along with Hyun put up a superb show for the Delhi crowd. That the clash was going to be a thriller was evident from the fact that the first point, which went Sindhu’s way came after a 29-shot rally. Quickly, the Indian doubled her lead before the Korean clawed her way back, leveling it at 2-2. She then took the lead before Sindhu came back with two consecutive winners, two powerful smashes making it 4-4 and won the next two points as well when Hyun ended up hitting the net. The duo continued to battle with same intensity, producing a marathon rally of 44 shots which went Hyun’s way. However, Sindhu prevailed 11-8.
The second game saw Sindhu taking a 6-5 lead at the break and then on resumption winning three straight points. Hyun’s game seemed to be falling apart and at 10-6, it looked Sindhu is going to win it quite easily. However, a long rally followed, Sindhu went deep but Hyun was giving fitting replies and eventually won the 22-shot rally to make it 10-7 and then reduced the deficit to two points when the world no 6 Indian ended up hitting the net. She had to fight hard for the match point and eventually sealed the issue 11-8 with the crowd going wild. With that win Chennai took a big 3-0 lead meaning Mumbai had to win the following contest – a men’s doubles which was also their trump match.
Sindhu’s win made the men’s doubles match a do-or-die affair for Mumbai. The duo of Yong Dae Lee and Nipitphon Puangpuapech produced a stellar show to beat the Chennai pair of Chris Adcock-Mads Pieler Kolding 12-10, 11-6 to keep their team’s hopes alive, reducing the deficit to just one point. The opening game was an evenly matched affair with Lee-Puangpuapech winning it 12-10 after the Brit-Dane pair had saved a game point. In the second game, Mumbai turned on the style, racing to a 3-0 lead before two errors allowed Chennai to win successive points. But Smashers couldn’t keep them from winning the game 11-6.
The first men’s singles of the night between HS Prannoy and Parupalli Kashyap turned out to be an engrossing affair. While HS Prannoy of Chennai dominated the first game with his powerful smashes winning it in clinical fashion 11-4. However, 30-year-old Kashyap produced a spirited effort to win the next game 11-8. In the decider, Prannoy seemed to be in a hurry as he gained a 3-0 lead and then Kashyap pulled his shoulder while chasing a shot to his right. He was briefly attended by a team official. The play resumed and Prannoy took the midgame lead at 6-3. Kashyap, the 2014 CWG gold medalist, continued to fight, slowly raising his game and at one stage was trailing by just one point but Prannoy was in red-hot form extending his unbeaten streak in the season, taking the third game and the match 11-8. With his win, Mumbai drew level with Chennai on points at 3-3 and 24-year-old Prannoy celebrated the brilliant comeback by taking off his jersey and throwing it into the crowd.
With the scores level at 3-3, it boiled down to the final match, again a men’s singles, between Tanongsak S (Chennai) and Ajay Jayaram (Mumbai). Tanongsak came from a game down to win 9-11, 11-7, 11-3. The Indian took the first game 11-9 after prevailing in a close fight. The tables turned in the second when Tanongsak shone with some powerful smashes to win 11-7. However, Jayaram lost steam in the decider with the Thai bossing over and finally sealing an easy 11-3 win to help his team win the trophy. Mumbai, on the other hand, had to remain satisfied being the runners-up second year in a row.