Prannoy, Saurabh guide Ahmedabad to PBL-3 semis

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

H.S. Prannoy powered Ahmedabad Smash Masters to a brilliant 4-1 victory over Mumbai Rockets, to advance to the semi-finals of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) season 3 here on Tuesday.

It was the last league for both teams but Ahmedabad came out all guns blazing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here to down the Rockets. While Ahmedabad earned five points, Mumbai did not get any.

The victory not only guaranteed Ahmedabad a semi-final spot but also sealed a top spot in the eight-team league. The five points earned from this win swelled their points tally to 17, two more than earlier leaders Bengaluru Blasters.

Prannoy, playing the first men's singles, dished out an impressive display to upset World No.5 Son Wan Ho 15-12, 15-12.

After losing the first game, the Korean fought back in the second by taking a 12-9 lead but Prannoy stood up to the challenge and ended up winning 15-12 and earned a vital point for his team.

Prannoy, the World No10, had made his intentions clear earlier in the day, tweeting: "1% chance, 99% faith that's how we go tonight for our last league match!! Do or die for a spot in the semis of PBL Season 3".

The 25-year-old backed his words on court by defeating a higher-ranked player.

Sourabh Verma was another hero for Ahmedabad as he won the Trump match defeating his brother Sameer 15-14, 15-11 in the second men's singles. It was also a Trump match for Mumbai, which meant the loss got them a negative point.

Incidentally, it was the first time in the season that both teams had ticked off the same match as Trump.

There was not much to choose between the Vermas in the first game but it was the elder brother Sourabh who edged out Sameer 15-14. The first game loss appeared to have affected Sameer as he was not in his elements in the second. Saurabh capitalised on it fully to seal the match by winning 15-12.

Earlier, World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying justified her billing by winning her women's singles duel against Beiwan Zhang 15-9, 15-12. Tai Tzu wrapped up the first game pretty quickly but in the second Zhang stretched her to level the scores at 6-6. The 23-year-old Tzu did not allow her opponent any leeway by collecting six points in a row only to find the doughty Zhang reduce the margin at 12-14.

Tzu ensured the scoreline did not change much by grabbing the match point and win 15-12.

Ahmedabad's mixed doubles pair of Law Cheuk Him and Kamilla Rytter Juhl began the proceedings in right earnest by defeating the Mumbai duo of Lee Yong Dae/Gabriela Stoeva 15-11, 15-7.

Lee Yong Dae and Tan Boon Heong provided the only consolation for Mumbai winning their men's doubles encounter against Lee Chun Hei Reginald and Kidambi Nandagopal 15-10, 15-12.

The Korean pair's win earned Mumbai their first point but the -1 point they had got in the Trump match defeat meant they ended up with zero points from this tie. While PBL debutants Ahmedabad surged to the top, two-time finalists Mumbai dropped to the bottom with just 10 points.

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