The Hyderabad Hunters registered their second win in the fourth edition of the Premier Badminton League, defeating Chennai Smashers 5-0 despite the loss of PV Sindhu.
The win was sealed when Mark Caljouw beat Chennai Smashers’ trump P Kashyap 15-11, 14-15, 15-13 in the fourth match to cement his team’s position at the top of the standings.
The defending champions, who began their campaign with a clean sweep against newcomers Pune 7 Aces on the opening day in Mumbai, avoided slipping on the banana skin in the very first match, which was also their trump.
The experienced combination of Kim Sa Rang and Bodin Isara summoned all their guile and experience to turn the tables on B Sumeeth Reddy and Or Chin Chung to win 13-15, 15-12, 15-10 and give their team two crucial points.
Having lost the opening game, Kim and Isara were trailing 4-10 in the second game and looked lost against the aggressive approach from the Chennai Smashers’ men’s doubles pair. But it was the sheer experience of the South Korea-Thailand pair that allowed them to not just overcome their opponents but also difficult court conditions with quick flat strokes to first force a decider and then wrap up the match.
Lee Hyun Il, the 38-year-old veteran from South Korea, then gave a few lessons in point construction against Chong Wei Feng to win 15-11, 15-13.
The battle of the two left-handers saw quite a few rallies played from the back of the court. Every time the Chennai Smashers shuttler looked to make a comeback, the experienced South Korean turned things around.
The victory gave BWF World Tour Finals champion PV Sindhu to wrap up the tie by giving the Hunters an unassailable lead but the 23-year-old just could not find the rhythm that saw her beat Carolina Marin in the first tie.
Chennai Smashers icon player Sung Ji Hyun made the most of Sindhu’s struggles with the conditions by concentrating on keeping the shuttle in play, as the world number three made many errors.
To her credit, Sindhu refused to give up despite chasing the match since she led 8-5 in the opening game. She simply lost momentum after that to lose the game 13-15. The Indian was trailing for the most part of the second game before taking the lead at 10-9 for the first time and forced the decider after winning the game on the deciding point.
She, however, again struggled to find her rhythm in the third and final game as Sung changed ends leading 8-3 and then wrapped up the match 15-13, 14-15, 15-7 to keep the Smashers alive. This was just the third loss for Sindhu in four editions of the PBL.
But if Chennai were hoping to cash in on the change in momentum, it was not to be as Caljouw got the better of a fighting Kashyap to give the hosts an unassailable 4-0 lead.
The Dutchman looked like closing the match in straight games, attacking Kashyap’s body with his booming smashes and also showed great awareness to adjust to the changing conditions on the court.
But Kashyap fought back from a 4-8 deficit in the second game to force a decider. The decider was a close fought affair with both players engaging in long rallies, but it was Caljouw who had the last laugh, closing the match with one of his trademark smashes.
The final match of the evening was purely academic as the Hunters had already wrapped up the tie but it was no less entertaining. Hyderabad’s Kim Sa Rang and Eom Hye won played a doubles classic against Chennai’s Chris and Gabby Adcock. The Korean pair lost the first game narrowly 14-15 before coming back to win the next two 15-13 and 15-14 after some breathtaking badminton.
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