A brilliant Ajay Jayaram just came up short as Kidambi Srikanth won a thrilling men’s singles match to help the Bengaluru Raptors edge Pune 7 Aces 4-3 at the Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex in Pune on Sunday.

Ajay had never beaten Srikanth in four meetings on the world circuit. But that mattered little initially, considering the thunderous start that Pune 7’s Ajay made against Bengaluru’s trump Srikanth.

There was no hint of the hamstring injury that derailed Ajay for a good part of the last year. Gliding beautifully around the court, the 7 Aces shuttler produced superb smashes to take the opener 15-10.

Srikanth rebounded in the second, riding on an array of attacking shots. Even though a late surge from Ajay brought him back to 9-12, Srikanth managed to pocket the game 15-12.

The enthralling decider witnessed a spectacular effort from Ajay as he made it 14-14 but Srikanth was able to sneak through by taking the golden point and, with it, the trump win 10-15, 15-12, 15-14.

Marin has an easy win

In the women’s singles rubber, Pune skipper and icon player Carolina Marin was irrepressible against the 59th ranked Vu Thi Trang, a player she had never met before in any competition.

Using her left-handed crosscourt smashes to perfection, the three-time world champion kept attacking her opponent’s backhand side ruthlessly. The Spaniard refused to relent and was in charge throughout the match, building up a 7-3 lead in the first game before closing it out 15-8.

The Vietnamese had absolutely no clue how to stop the lethal Marin even in the second game. The Spanish juggernaut continued to roll uninterruptedly, opening up an 11-5 lead before wrapping up a 15-8, 15-5 win in Pune’s trump match.

With two-time former world champion pair of Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan in the squad, the Raptors had every right to feel confident in the men’s doubles encounter. They delivered, going up 15-12 over Pune’s Chirag Shetty and Vladimir Ivanov. Chirag and Ivanov led 8-5 in the second but were denied the game as the veteran Indonesians wrapped it up 15-12, 15-11.

Ivanov made up for the loss in the mixed doubles rubber thanks to his deadly smashes that crushed the Commonwealth Games silver medallists Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith of Bengaluru. Ivanov and Line Kjaersfeldt showed fantastic chemistry to grab a 15-13, 15-9 win for the Pune franchise.

In the final rubber of the tie, Bengaluru’s Sai Praneeth completed the job for his team with a strong 15-9, 15-13 win over the 17-year-old Lakshya Sen, which sealed the victory for the visitors.