Bengaluru Raptors rode on skipper Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth’s wins to beat former champions Delhi Dashers 2-1 in the Premier Badminton League tie in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
This was the Raptors’ second consecutive victory in the league, as Srikanth continued his unbeaten streak this season, having won all three of his matches so far.
The teams opted to have their trump matches up first. Sai Praneeth’s cancellation of Delhi’s trump HS Prannoy was followed by the Raptors losing their own mixed doubles trump. Srikanth then took the court to get a three-game win before Vu Thi Trang completed the job for Bengaluru.
In the first rubber, Bengaluru’s Sai Praneeth met his training partner HS Prannoy, who represented the Delhi franchise. When the match started, it was evident that Prannoy, already hobbled by a right knee injury, wasn’t at his best.
Facing breathing issues, the Indian national champion had a hard time stringing together points. Praneeth showed beautiful control of the shuttle to build a 6-2 lead.
It was only after the mid-game break that Prannoy started showing signs of resurgence and drew level at 10-10 before Praneeth dashed his hopes with a 15-12 scoreline in the first game.
Having gone down 8-10 in the second game, Prannoy found a second gear to explode to 13-10. With the score tied at 14-14, a struggling Prannoy found a wondrous drop shot to take the second game.
Praneeth cut down on his errors to take an 8-6 lead in the decider and extended it to 12-8 with a superb round-the-head shot, and finally slammed shut the match 15-12, 14-15, 15-13.
Bengaluru Raptors began their mixed doubles on a grand note, racing away to a 5-0 lead through Commonwealth Games silver medallists Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith. But a spirited fightback from Delhi’s Maneepong Jongjit and Evgeniya Kosetskaya saw the latter snatching the game 15-13.
Agile as ever, the Thai shuttler simply kept oozing brilliance in the second game and carried the Dashers to 12-9 before adding the next three points as well to take the 15-13, 15-9 win.
Riding on his jump smashes, Bengaluru captain Kidambi Srikanth went ahead to 6-2 against Delhi’s Tommy Sugiarto. Looking fully in control of the play, he was relentless as he kept the scoreboard ticking to move up to 12-6, and then grabbed the one-sided opener 15-6.
The Indonesian showed real character to force an 8-3 turnaround in the next game. Srikanth went on a lull to allow Sugiarto to build a 13-8 advantage. A brief spark from the Indian couldn’t stop Sugiarto who pocketed the game.
The former world No 1, however, managed to rebound strongly in the deciding game. Varying his shots, the aggressive Srikanth quickly went up to 8-4 as his opponent started looking more and more clueless.
It was just a matter of time before the Raptors man wrapped up the rubber with a 15-6, 12-15, 15-10 victory.
Delhi Dashers erased that setback soon through their women’s singles exponent Chia Hsin Lee. She opened the rubber with a strong play to get the first game 15-12.
However, having never met Bengaluru’s Vu Thi Trang on the international circuit, she simply wasn’t prepared for the fightback. The Bengaluru player absolutely toyed with her to grab the second game 15-3.
Vu refused to give up in the decider despite Chia keeping it competitive till 6-6. Vu is ranked 59th and is placed 18 spots below Chia. That did not matter at all as a determined Vu kept cruising to add seven of the next nine points to fetch the win for Bengaluru.