World number 2 Tai Tzu Ying and Brice Leverdez dazzled with their performances to take defending champions Bengaluru Raptors into the semi-finals of the Premier Badminton League in Hyderbad on Thursday.
The Raptors were up against Awadhe Warriors in a must-win tie with both the teams in hunt for the last semi-final spot to join the North Eastern Warriors, Chennai Superstarz and Pune 7 Aces.
With the Raptors being on the fourth spot in the league table and separated from the Awadhe team by just three points, they needed to ensure that the Warriors don’t manage to get four points.
Even though the Lucknow-based franchise began the highly-awaited tie with a win in men’s doubles, Leverdez beat Awadhe Trump Ajay Jayaram to turn the tie on its head and then Tai Tzu Ying fetched another vital point to take the Raptors into the last-four round.
The face-off between former world number 1 Tai Tzu Ying and world number 14 Beiwen Zhang was obviously the cynosure of all eyes.
Zhang trails the Chinese Taipei shuttler ace 2-8 in their head-to-head record on the BWF World Tour but she put a valiant show on the court on Thursday.
Tai Tzu Ying ran away to a 7-4 lead, stamping her authority in the clash.
Zhang took her time but once she settled into the match, she gave the Bengaluru talisman quite a hard time.
By elevating the shuttle height and by extending the rallies, she kept testing Tai Tzu Ying’s defence. The American’s tactic rattled the Raptors shuttler and the two were soon tied at 10-10. With the two locked at 12-12, it needed Tai Tzu Ying’s wizardry to eke out the first game 15-12.
The two orchestrated an enthralling second game with Zhang even inching ahead to take a 10-9 lead.
Tai Tzu Ying’s errors had helped Zhang come back into the game after the former built a 7-5 advantage.
With both women displaying tons of courage and conviction, the scores were tied at 12-12 before the Bengaluru player used her deception to pocket the game and match at 15-12
Leverdez defeated India number 1 Ajay Jayaram 15-9 15-9 to seal the tie in Bengaluru’s favour.