PBL Analysis | Domineering PV Sindhu guides Chennai to victory as Prannoy, Tai falter

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PBL Analysis | Domineering PV Sindhu guides Chennai to victory as Prannoy, Tai falter

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SportsCafe Desk

01/07/2018

Ahmedabad succumbed to their second defeat of the season as Chennai Smashers rode on a PV Sindhu masterclass, who proved to be too much for Tai Tzu Ying and in the mixed doubles match. While most of Ahmedabad’s big guns failed to impress, Nandagopal/Lee and Sourabh registered majestic wins.

C. Adcock/ Y. Lee vs L.C.H Reginald/ K. Nandagopal

Starting the last game in the previous three ties had either kept the pair of Reginald and Nandagopal under no pressure with tie already in Ahmedabad’s court or under huge pressure as they were playing the decider. On Saturday, however, they were asked to open the tie against Chennai Smashers and they looked way more comfortable. However, they were still found themselves out of position and one of the main reasons they could actually win the first game 15-13 was because Adcock/Lee committed numerous unforced errors. Nandagopal has shown glimpses of brilliance from close rallies this season, but he has otherwise been quite inconsistent. The Indian ace was found struggling while returning Chennai’s smashes that helped the opponents to capitalize in the second game. However, Reginald’s exceptional play at the backcourt, which included an impeccably executed jump smash from a height of 9.5 ft, eventually helped the Smash Masters edge past the home pair 15-12 in the second game.

PV Sindhu vs Tai Tzu Ying 

Viewers had mixed predictions about the game despite the invincible stature that Taiwanese had been enjoying since the start of the season. She hardly had to break a sweat in her last three wins against Michelle Li, Rasika Raje, and Saina Nehwal, who hardly stood up to her both mentally and physically. A more determined and fitter Sindhu was not expected to be that passive and her very first smash, which forced Tai to go forward at full-stretch and still miss, was a sign of things to come. Despite Ahmedabad’s star remaining at her dominant best, Sindhu managed to work her across the court. Tai was out of her comfort zone and was missing from positions where she usually is at her deceptive best, which gave way to numerous unforced errors. Sindhu’s greatest asset against Tai was her ability to pick up the steep front court drop shots that others had failed to deal with so far. After the first game went to Sindhu, Chennai had started to believe that a win was possible and despite Tai levelling the second game, Sindhu went on to win the decider.

B. Leverdez vs S. Verma

With Ahmedabad still recovering from the shocking result of last game, Sourabh Verma came to the fore next with scoreline reading 1-1. The 25-year-old was winless in his last two games and the way he lost to Parupalli Kashyap was expected to take a shot at his confidence. Expectations from the Masters' star had also decreased consequently, and despite him leading a major part of the first game, people knew that his inconsistency would eventually let him down. While Brice Leverdez gave him enough chances to smash his way to a win, Sourabh’s inability to pick the right positions was constantly allowing his opponent to come back from losing positions. Going down the first game, Sourabh looked completely depleted of confidence as Leverdez led the second game 13-9. But, a string of loose shots by the Frenchman from the position of a convincing lead saw Sourabh overcome his uncertainty to close his opponent. A few clear-cut opportunities to smash at Leverdez’s body went his way and the Indian looked to gradually trust his strengths. Sourabh’s biggest flaw in previous games was missing out on the glorious chances to attack from close court duels, which was sorted in the deciding game as he was now taking the game the to his opponent and eventually won a massive game for his side in the tie.

T. Soensomboonsuk vs H.S. Prannoy

With the fourth match had the potential to be the decider in the tie, Ahmedabad were now hoping again. They were, however, not wrong to have high expectations from their trump card, HS Prannoy, especially given his impressive winning streak of 10 games. However, Prannoy faltered on Saturday and in a dramatic manner. Things were just not working for the Indian ace that could be seen from his numerous unforced errors in the first game. Despite Prannoy successfully returning Tanongsak’s jump smashes, lost out to cheap errors. Though Prannoy did make a comeback in the second game, his attempt to make amends for the loose play by picking up tough spots saw more errors than points and hardly forced Tanongsak to change his tactics. Prannoy should have stuck to his strong smashes but decided to resort to perfect placements, instead, when he was leading 14-11. It eventually saw the Thai shuttler staging a stunning comeback and win the fourth match.

P.V. Sindhu/B.S Reddy vs L.C.H. Reginald/K.R. Juhl  

The deciding game of the tie was down to the mixed doubles match between Juhl/Reginald and Sindhu/Reddy and given the non-regular pairing at the other end, the Smash Masters were surely fancying their chances this time. Juhl, though not having the best of seasons, has been one of the most experienced shuttlers in the double format and with Gabrielle Adcock injured for Chennai, should have had a straightforward win. However, the duo continued their sloppy and error-prone play that had cost them the game against Awadhe’s Man/Pedersen last game. Juhl has been surprisingly patchy in the league and was largely responsible for letting Chennai levelling points at 14-14 despite going into the break 8-4 in the first game. 

Sindhu and Reddy were visibly struggling to cope whenever Ahmedabad increased their game’s tempo but their repetitive errors meant Chennai were never really under pressure. Despite winning the first game narrowly 15-14 Chennai were far from controlling the game in their approach and Sindhu’s poor judgment to leave a shuttle that fell well inside the baseline reflected it. But, Ahmedabad could hardly execute the smashes even when they were placed on a platter for them, which eventually gave away the tie with two consecutive losses.

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