Tai Tzu Ying won the trump match for the Ahmedabad Smash Masters and HS Prannoy and Saurabh Verma secured victory in the men’s singles to guide the team for a 4-3 lead over the North Eastern Warriors. While the Masters won all the singles matches, the Warriors were brilliant in the doubles matches.
Sourabh Verma vs Pratul Joshi
North Eastern Warriors decided to give Pratul Joshi a chance after Ajay Jayaram was declared injured before the game and the youngster vindicated the decision through his attacking instincts. Although Verma took a four-point lead at the mid-way mark of the first game, the 2016 Bahrain International winner made sure that the senior pro had to break a lot of sweat to win each point, but he failed to return Verma’s wonderful baseline game to reduce the difference to four points at 11-7. Although the Uttarakhand player displayed a wide variety of shots in his game, from playing cross court drops to down the line drives, he failed to overcome Verma’s experience as the latter won the first game 15-10. In the second game, the duo fought tooth and nail, but Pratul’s inability to hit the winners helped Verma take a lead at 5-4. The former, however, looked exhausted as the game progressed and Verma took full advantage of the same and made the 23-year-old move all across the court and secured easy points. After the break, it was one-way traffic for the Hyderabad guy as he closed out the game at 15-7 with a brilliant forehand winner to give Ahmedabad their first point of their history.
Sawant/Cheol vs Reginald/Juhl
Cheol started things off for North Eastern Warriors with three consecutive smashes as the duo took a 3-0 lead before the Ahmedabad duo leveled things up with a set of smashes of their own. After a couple of quick exchanges, Choel stretched the Warriors’ lead with four smashes and was rewarded when Juhl hit a drop shot out. Both the teams continued going neck-to-neck with the hosts leading 8-6 at the mid-game interval of the first game. The second half of the first game also saw the quartet involved in some excellent badminton before the Warriors’ pair took the game 15-13. The second game also went down to the wire with the Ahmedabad duo putting up a big fight and not letting the hosts run away with the game at any point in time. But their failure to convert to their attacking instincts into points proved costly for the team as Warriors secured their first win of the match by an identical margin of 15-13.
Tai Tzu Ying vs Michelle Li
Probably, the best thing that Smash Masters did on the auction table was that they managed to snap the services of Tai Tzu Ying. And that was on display when the Chinese Taipei player literally smashed the Canadian pro from the outset to take a lead at 6-1. After gifting away a point, the Taiwanese won a couple of points through a great deceptive shot to enter the mid-game interval at 8-2. After that the Peru International challenge champion failed to understand the World No.1’s deceptive gameplay and looked like a spectator losing the first game 15-6. However, Michelle Li made a stunning comeback in the second game and didn’t allow the Taiwanese win any easy points. The World No.1 had to earn each point and managed to lead the game for the first time at 7-6, but Li again leveled things up at 10-10. But Tai showcased her worth at the dying stages to secure five back-to-back points to secure two points for her team.
HS Prannoy vs Wang Tzu Wei
Prannoy drew first blood with two wonderful backhand winners and soon raced to a 6-4 lead. Despite the World No.11 showing early signs of good performance, Prannoy brought his killer instincts to the fore and managed to secure an 8-4 lead at the mid-way mark of the first game. The North Eastern singles’ star put forward some brilliant smashes, but those were retrieved well by the Indian and after two exceptional picks, he pounced on the chance to go 9-4 up. While the Taiwan player played the drop shots and smashes to perfection, he failed to return well time and again. That allowed the Indian ace to attest his dominance in the game to win it 15-10. However, the Taiwanese shuttler made sure that it was not all gloomy for the hosts as he brought his best game to the fore and went in level terms as of the Indian as the duo found the game at 8-5 at the break with Prannoy in the lead. The World No.11, however, made sure that his backhand play got the better of his opponent as he raced to a 12-9 lead. Prannoy seemed to be struggling when the Taiwanese player found himself with five game points, but the Indian saved four of them and sealed out the match 300 plus
Law Cheuk Him/Lee Chun Hei Reginald vs Kim Gi Jung/Shin Baek Cheol
The Ahmedabad duo secured the first point as Jung committed an unforced error and both the teams continued trading points until the Ahmedabad duo took a lead at 6-4. But the hosts, backed by a vociferous crowd, literally ran away with the game and didn’t allow the Hong Kong duo to do anything special. The Korean duo’s defense was spectacular, to say the least, and they didn’t commit a lot of unforced errors to take the first game 15-8. Although the Ahmedabad duo put up a splendid fight in the second game to be on level terms at 9-9, the Korean pairing proved to be too hot to handle for them after that and the North Eastern’s trump duo made sure that the visitors could only run away with a slender 4-3 lead in the tie.
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