PV Sindhu survived a scare in her match before Chris and Gabrielle Adcock won their mixed doubles tie as Chennai Smashers eked out a hard-fought victory over Mumbai Rockets in the Premier Badminton League at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium in Delhi on Wednesday.
The Delhi crowd was treated to an exciting tie in a repeat of last edition’s final, which ended with a similar 4-3 scoreline.
Chennai fell behind in the opening encounter, with B. Sumeeth Reddy and Lee Yang losing to Lee Yong Dae and Tan Boon Heong 9-15, 6-15 in the Men’s Doubles. World No. 24 Brice Leverdez of France, however, staved off a staunch challenge from World No. 30 Sameer Verma to win 15-14, 10-15, 15-14 and brought the teams level.
It was then Sindhu walked onto the court. The crowd was steadily building in the lead up to her game and quickly fizzled out after the match got over – a clear indication of the pull she has on fans. But the crowd was quickly silenced when Beiwen Zhang won the first game. Sindhu began well but lost 12-15 to the World No. 11 from America with Chinese roots.
But soon Sindhu began dominating, much to the crowd’s delight. The noise increased with every winner and there was a slew of those from Sindhu’s racket.
She displayed typical grit and composure to level the match, winning the second 15-7. The third game saw Zhang inch ahead 5-4 but Sindhu again was calmness personified as she regained an 8-7 lead at the break. She took her chances after that and forced her opponent from one end to the other, to round up a win at 15-9. That win put Chennai Smashers ahead 2-1 in the tie.
Former World No. 1 Son Wan Ho of South Korea, however, won his trump match, beating Tanongsak Saesomboonsuk of Thailand 15-11, 15-5 to take the clash into the decider while also giving them a 3-2 edge in points.
The Adcock couple from Great Britain, Chris and Gabriela, then put up a grand show to beat MR Arjun and Gabriela Stoeva in an exciting mixed doubles’ clash to seal the tie for the Chennai Smashers.
The victory saw them jump ahead 4-3 on points as they had nominated this as their trump match.
It wasn’t an easy win for the Adcocks though. They dominated the first game to easily win 15-9. But Arjun, playing his first PBL match, showed great defensive skills and uncanny anticipation to clinch the second game 15-13.
In the decider, though, the Adcocks were back to the best, jumping to a 6-0 lead. Arjun and Stoeva made a minor comeback but the match was clearly slipping out of their hands. They fell behind 4-8 and eventually lost 9-15.
Earlier, Leverdez and Sameer were locked in a high-octane clash. The Indian started the proceedings on a high note but soon fell behind. An accurate forehand smash helped him level at 9-9. But the Frenchman stayed on top of his game to clinch the all-decisive point at 14-14.
The deceptive Sameer bounced back in the second game with his intricate net play, lashing out smashes at will to win the second game 15-10. As the clash went down to the wire, Sameer raced off to a 4-1 lead. But the Frenchman was up to him and levelled the decider 10-10 before racing away to a 13-10 lead for himself.
Sameer refused to give up though, fighting his way to 14-all. He, however, made an error to the lose the match and a crucial tie.
The men’s doubles encounter too went neck and neck in the initial phases. But Mumbai Rockets’ Lee Yong Dae and Tan Boon Heong eventually toyed with the Smashers’ pair of Sumeeth Reddy and Lee Yang to defeat them 15-9, 15-6 and bagged the first point for his team.
Men’s Singles: Lee Yong dae/ Tan Boon Heong bt B Sumeeth Reddy/ Lee Yang: 15-9;15-6
Men’s Singles: Sameer Verma lost to Brice Leverdez: 14-15;15-10;14-15
Women’s Singles: Beiwen Zhang lost to PV Sindhu: 15-12;7-15;9-15
Men’s Singles: Son Wan Ho beat Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk: 15-11; 15-5 (Trump)
Mixed Doubles: Gabriela Stoeva/MR Arjun lost to Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock: 9-15;15-13;9-15