World number 10 H.S Prannoy of India maintained his unbeaten run in the Premier Badminton League as he breezed past his compatriot Sai Praneeth of Hyderabad Hunters to seal the tie 3-2 (4-3 on points) for Ahmedabad Smash Masters at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi on Friday, December 29.
Ahmedabad's trump player Prannoy started in his usual flamboyant manner and took a lead of 6-2. However, world number 16 Praneeth did not let him off the hook so easily and overturned the deficit to take six straight points to lead at the interval.
After the break, Prannoy got his act together and after initial exchange of points, won four straight points to race to a 14-10 lead. Praneeth delayed the inevitable by saving a game point but Prannoy took the next one to win the opening game 15-11.
The reigning national champion was unstoppable in the second game as well and his combination of power smashes, deceptive drops and net play was too much for Praneeth to handle and he went down 8-15 to see his team go down 1-4 on points. This is Prannoy's ninth win on the trot in the Vodafone PBL.
Tai Tzu Ying eases to victory
Earlier, world number one Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei retained Ahmedabad's lead in the third match after she picked up a comfortable victory over Rasika Raje. The young Indian replacing World No.4 Carolina Marin in the playing squad looked completely out of sorts against the 2017 Hong Kong Open winner and went 5-15,6-15 in a meek fashion.
In the second match of the tie, world number 18 Lee Hyun il of Korea brushed aside India's Sourabh Verma to restore parity for the Hunters. The Korean veteran looked in sublime form as he raced past his opponent 15-9 in the opening game without facing much challenge. In the second game, Saurabh, ranked 49th in the world, gave a better account of himself and tried to make a comeback but could not mount enough challenge as the 2017 Denmark Open runner-up whisked away to seal the deal 15-11.
Smash Masters' mixed doubles duo of Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Lee Chun Hei Reginald came back from a game down to beat the Hyderabad pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Pia Zebediah Bernadeth to draw the first blood in the tie.
Hunters got off to a flying start in the opening game and left their opponents running for cover as their powerplay was too much to handle for the Ahmedabad duo. They hardly broke a sweat and danced their way a 15-4 win in the opening game.
Satwik/Pia started the second game from where they left and opened up a 3-0 lead. It looked like they would race to the victory without facing much challenge. But the Ahmedabad pair launched a stunning comeback to win the next three points to level the score.
Both the pair moved together from here on and it was Ahmedabad who went into the break with a slender lead of one point. After the interval, Ahmedabad took three points on the trot to lead 11-8. Hyderabad tried to stay in the game and picked up few more points but Smash Masters eventually won the second game 15-12 to take the match into the decider.
Kamilla/ Lee Chen gradually grew into the match and turned the tides completely and won the final game 15-8 to give their squad an 1-0 advantage.
Men's doubles, the last and final match of the day, a trump match for Hyderabad Hunters was won by the Hunters 15-14,15-11 as the experienced duo of Markis Kido and Yoo Yeon Seong beat Kidambi Nandagopal and Lee Chun Hei Reginald of Ahmedabad Smash Masters.
1) XD - Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Lee Chun Hei bt Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Pia Zebediah Bernadeth – 4-15, 15-12, 15-8
2) MS - Lee Hyun Il bt Sourabh Verma 15-9,15-11
3) WS – Tai Tzu Ying bt Rasika Raje – 15-5, 15-6
4) MS – H.S Prannoy [T] bt Sai Praneeth – 15-10,15-8
5) MD – Kidambi Nandagopal/Lee Chun Hei Reginald lost to Markis Kido/Ypp Yeon Seong [T] – 15-14, 15-11