Ajay Jayaram and Michelle Li won Friday night’s trump matches against Bengaluru Blasters to keep North Eastern Warriors’ campaign alive in the Premier Badminton League.
Ajay, in the first PBL tie in Chennai, beat Chong Wei Feng in straight games to help the Warriors take a 1-0 lead after their men’s doubles pair – Boe Mathias and Kim Sa Rang – lost the first match of the night.
Wei Feng came into the match with a win against world No 15 Wing Ki Vincent Wong in the previous tie. But the Hongkonger found it hard to deal with Ajay’s smashes as he lost the first game 8-15. He tried disrupting the Indian in the next game with some deft drops but could only improve his score to 13. Ajay’s triumph gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead.
The best match of the night, however, was Li versus world No 16 Kirsty Gilmour.
Gilmour breezed past her Canadian opponent 15-7 in the first game. Li’s swift net kills took her to an 8-6 lead at the break in the second. But Gilmour won four straight points from 8-9 to lead again. As the Scot looked to finish the game, Li stunned her by winning it 15-14.
In the decider, Li overturned a 6-8 deficit to win it 15-13. The Warriors sighed relief, for, the win put them in the fifth spot in the table with 13 points.
Blasters, though, didn’t leave the Jawaharlal Nehru indoor arena empty handed.
World No 1 Viktor Axelsen won a nail-biting tie against 22-year-old Tzu Wei Wang of Chinese Taipei, in the second men’s singles clash of the night. After the Dane lost the first game 9-15, he bounced back in the next with a 15-13 win to take the match to the decider. Errors, as a result of nerves, saw Wang concede a 13-12 lead. Axelsen, clinched the match at 15-14 with a thundering smash.
In the last encounter of the night, Blasters’ Sikki Reddy and Manu Attri toiled for a 12-15, 15-8, 15-9 win against Prajakta Sawant and Shin Baek Cheol. The win took Blasters’ points tally to 13 and placed them atop the table.
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