Bengaluru Raptors counted on their two of the biggest singles stars, Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth, to not only win but help the team reach the final of Pro Badminton League. And they did it with ease.
Sai Praneeth and Srikanth defeated Lee Oong Keun of South Korea and Son Wan Ho respectively as Bengaluru Raptors raced to the final with a 4-2 win over Awadhe Warriors at the Kanteerava Stadium on Friday.
They will take on the winners of the clash between Hyderabad Hunters and Mumbai Rockets in the final on Sunday.
Awadhe Warriors led 2-0 lead after their trump mixed doubles pair of Mathias Christiansen and Ashwini Ponnappa vanquished the English pair of Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith 15-7, 15-10.
Christiansen and Ponnappa hardly lost points off their own errors and the English duo didn’t hit many winners.
But it was Sai Praneeth sublime form in his straight-games victory against Lee Oong Keun that brought the Raptors back in the tie. He laid out his array of strokes from the start to put the world No 27 under pressure. With a backhand cross court drop, he surged to 8-5. The second half of the game witnessed more smashes from Sai Praneeth, as he closed it at 15-9.
In the second game, Sai Praneeth led 6-1 before erring twice – once at the net and once while attempting a sideline-hugging smash. But from 6-3, he won eight straight points – three of them result of Lee’s errors. Lee delayed Sai Praneeth’s sixth straight PBL win with a smash targetted at his opponent but he lost 9-15, 14-15.
Kidambi Srikanth had accounted for the former world No 1 Son Wan Ho twice on his way to winning four Super Series titles in his incredible 2017 season. That experience perhaps helped him on Friday night’s 15-7, 15-10 win.
In both games, Srikanth got off to a great start, leading 8-3. The first, he let his opponent score just four more points as he smashed – with impeccable placement than just power – his way to win it 15-7.
In the second, Son, because of a few errors from his opponent, got to double-digit score. But he lost the match after netting a serve at 10-14.
Raptors’ trump pair of Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan then defeated Christiansen and Yang Lee 15-14, 15-9 to seal the victory.
BENGALURU RAPTORS BEAT AWADHE WARRIORS 4-2
- Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith lose to Mathias Christiansen and Ashwini Ponnappa (T) 7-15, 10-15
- B Sai Praneeth beat Lee Oong Keun 15-9, 15-4
- Kidambi Srikanth beat Son Wan Ho 15-10, 15-7
- Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan beat Christiansen and Yang Lee 15-14, 15-9.