Delhi Dashers threw their hats into the semifinal ring of the third Premier Badminton League season by upstaging North Eastern Warriors in the first match of the Hyderabad-leg at the Gachibowli Stadium on Wednesday, January 10.
Delhi won three matches, including the Trump match, to garner four points, thereby clinching a a top-four spot. After the first four matches, the Warriors could not make any addition to their points tally and had to be content with 11 they had earned earlier.
Tian Houwei led Delhi's charge by staging a brilliant recovery in his men's singles duel against Tzu Wei Wang before winning 10-15, 15-8, 11-15. The Chinese, ranked 22 in the world, was down 2-8 in the final game but bounced back to clinch it 15-11 and upset the world number 11.
Wang's defeat was a big blow for the Warriors as it was their Trump match which meant they ended up with a negative point.
Interestingly, it was their first Trump loss of the season, having won all four earlier.
Sung Ji Hyun shines yet again
Sung Ji Hyun extended Delhi's run by overcoming a defiant Michelle Li 13-15, 15-11, 15-13 in her Trump match. Sung Ji, The World No3 was the favourite to win but the Canadian almost caused an upset with her fighting display.
Michelle and Shin Baek Cheol had provided a bright start to the Warriors winning their mixed doubles duel against the Delhi pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Vladimir Ivanov in straight games 15-13, 15-11.
However, Wing Ki Wong Vincent helped Delhi level the scores as he won the day's first men's singles against Ajay Jayaram 15-13, 10-15, 15-12.
The World No 15 started off well by winning a tight first game 15-13 only to find the Indian stage a fightback in the second with a combination of deft placements and effective smashes.
Ajay, ranked 38 in the World pocketed the second game 15-12. The third game was evenly poised at 8-7 in favour of the 27-year-old from Hong Kong and he went on to consolidate it by surging ahead to a 12-8 lead before winning the decider.
Wing Ki Wong was so delighted with his win that he pranced around the court and broke into a Usain Bolt-like celebration.
On Thursday, Hyderabad Hunters will take on leaders Bengaluru Blasters in the last match of the league.
North Eastern Warriors 1 v Delhi Dashers 4
XD: Michelle Li/ Shin Baek Cheol bt Ashwini Ponnappa/ Vladimir Ivanov 15-13, 15-11
MS: Ajay Jayaram lost to Wing Ki Wong Vincent 13-15, 15-10, 12-15
MS: Tzu Wei Wang (T) v Tian Houwei 10-15, 15-8, 11-15
WS: Michelle Li lost to Sung Ji Hyun (T)- 15-13, 11-15, 13-15
MD: Kim Gi Jung/ Shin Baek Cheol beat Ivan Sozonov/ Vladimir Ivanov- 9-15;15-10;15-9
STANDINGS AS OF YESTERDAY (10.01.2018)
|Ahmadabad Smash Masters||5||17|
|North Eastern Warriors||5||12|