PBL 2017 | Carolina Marin stars as Hyderabad Hunters overcome Bengaluru Blasters

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PBL 2017 | Carolina Marin stars as Hyderabad Hunters overcome Bengaluru Blasters

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SportsCafe Desk


Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin overcame tense moments in the Trump women's singles against Ashwini Ponnappa to give Hyderabad Hunters a 4-3 victory over Bengaluru Blasters in PBL 2017 on Saturday. The win took Hyderabad to the third place in the standings five points behind leaders Lucknow.

The tie started with the men's singles match between Bengaluru's Thai recruit Boonsak Ponsana and India's Sameer Verma representing Hyderabad. Verma went into a 7-0 lead in the first set , but allowed his opponent to come back into the game at 6-8 but held on to win the set 11-8. In a closely contested second set, Verma prevailed by winning the match at 11-7 despite allowing Ponsana take the lead twice.

Hyderabad then made a surprising choice by playing World No.1 Carolina Marin in the mixed doubles match alongside Satwik Sairaj in their second tie. However, the pair were able to put up a fight against the Bengaluru's Ko Sung Hyun and Sikki Reddy but lost the first set by a small margin of 9-11. After losing the first four points at the start of the second set, Marin and Satwik tried to make a comeback by making it 6-9, but the Bengaluru pair wrapped up the set forcing two errors from Satwik.

With the scores level at 1-1, World No.3 Victor Axelsen took up on Sai Praneeth in trump men's singles match. The 11-point format of the PBL seemed to promise an upset when Praneeth stood within a touching difference of 5-7 in the first set, but Axelsen upped the ante to win the set by 11-6. Praneeth was no match for the Dane's brilliance in the second set with Bengaluru's marquee signing winning the match with a dominating 11-5 win.

The tie became more interesting in the men's doubles match with Bengaluru's pair of KS Hyun and Yeon Seong going toe-to-toe against Hyderabad's Tan Boon and Tan Wee. The hosts dominated the first set with Boon and Tan Wee committing a number of unforced errors which saw them trailing 4-8 and eventually losing the set at 5-11. 

But the Hyderabadi pair turned the game on its head  when they reached a similar position at 8-4. Tan Boon and Wee sent some crackling smashes into their opponent's box forcing three errors while also winning two more points to draw level at 9-9. The game then went from 10-10 and then to 11-11 before Tan Wee won two consecutive points to win the second set by 13-11. Taking the confidence from the second set, the visiting team dominated the third set by making it 7-4 and then sealing the match at 11-8.

With the scores at 3-2, Carolina Marin entered the Trump women's singles match with Bengaluru springing a surprise by opting for India's doubles player Ashwini Ponnappa for the crunch match. To everyone's surprise, Ponnappa played extremely well against the Olympic gold medallist by constantly pushing her towards the baseline with Marin committing six unforced errors to lose the first set to Ponnappa by 11-9.

However, Marin showed her class in the second set by sending Ponnappa scrambling across the court and won the set by 11-5. The third set was a tensely contested affair with the Indian drawing level with Marin thrice at 3-3,4-4 and 6-6 to take a slender of 7-6. However, Ponnappa committed multiple mistakes in the final moments of the game allowing Marin to win back the lead and then take the set at 11-8 taking Hyderabad to a 4-3 victory.

However, the win did not help Hyderabad much as they still remain third in the table trailing second-placed Mumbai by three points and toppers Lucknow by five points.

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