The current edition of the Premier Badminton League has provided us with some exciting moments - be it upsets or just sheer entertainment. Deciding games were necessary for picking the winner of quite a few match-ups, and the last semi-final place was confirmed in the final match of the group stage.
Here are the best group matches in the tournament:
Delhi Acers -1-6 Mumbai Rockets
Before the start of the tournament, the Mumbai Rockets were considered to be one of the weaker teams in the league, but that all changed in the very first game they played. In a replay of last season's final, Mumbai came up against the might of the Delhi Acers but proved that not only were they a great team of players but also that they were ready to launch a serious title bid.
In the very first game, Ajay Jayaram beat World No. 2 Jan Jorgensen in Delhi's Trump match to pick up a point for his team and putting Delhi in an awkward position of having negative points on the board. But that was just the beginning of the
Although a few other teams did it later, Mumbai
The very first match of the tournament gave us an indication that all these top players had not come to India to pick up an easy paycheck. In a rematch of the Olympic final between Carolina Marin and PV Sindhu, Marin won the first game 11-8 but Sindhu fought back in the second taking it by a score of 12-14. In the decider, however, Marin outclassed her Indian counterpart by a score of 11-2 to earn the first points for her team.
Chennai fought back quickly by picking up two wins in a row as Tommy Sugiarto beat B Sai Praneeth before Chris and Gabrielle Adcock won their trump match against Satwik Sai Raj and Chau Hoi Wah to give their team a 3-1 lead. But Rajiv Ouseph's three-game win against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk meant that Tan Boon Heong and Tan Wee Kiong victory in their match against Mads Pieler Kolding and B Sumeeth Reddy completed the comeback for their team.
Bengaluru Blasters 3-4 Hyderabad Hunters
This game almost played out like a Bollywood movie. Almost! The Hunters came in as heavy favorites and proved the bookmakers right as Sameer Verma picked up an easy win against Boonsak Ponsana. However, Ko Sung-Hyun and Sikki Reddy beat Satwik Sai Raj and Carolina Marin, a surprising pick for the doubles, comfortably in the mixed doubles match to level things up. Viktor Axelsen, chosen to play the Trump match, dispatched off Sai Praneeth easily to give the Blasters a 3-1 lead.
Tan Boon Heong and Tan Wee Kiong made it 3-2 after a win against Ko Sung-Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong and all looked well and good for the Hunters as Carolina Marin took the court against Ashwini Ponnappa, a reverse surprise for Marin given she is a doubles specialist, in the singles in Hyderabad's Trump match. To the delight of the home crowd, Ponnappa picked up the first game by a score of 11-9. Marin came back strong in the second with an 11-5 win to take the match into a deciding game. Midway through the final game, Ponnappa found herself 6-4 up but five unforced errors in the last seven points meant that Marin and Hyderabad escaped with a close 4-3 win.
Hyderabad Hunters 1-2 Mumbai Rockets
Quite easily the best match of the tournament so far. Mumbai's Lee Yong Dae and Nipithphon Phuangphuapet kept their good run in the league going by picking up a comfortable victory over Tan Boon Heong and Tan Wee Kiong. The next match was between Carolina Marin and Sung Ji Hyun and to everyone's surprise, Marin, who had already beaten PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, was not picked as a trump match. What was even more surprising was that Hyun picked up another point for the Mumbai-based team after three grueling sets.
Rajiv Ouseph got Hyderabad back into the match by beating Ajay Jayaram and bringing the score to 2-1. But things were just getting warmed up with a top of the table spot up for grabs. Lee Yong Dae and Nadiezda Zieba who had looked unplayable at times in the league lost their Trump match against Satwik Sai Raj and Chau Hoi Wah to put Hyderabad 2-1 up in the match. However, Sameer Verma lost his Trump match to H S Prannoy as the score again moved to end at 2-1 in favor of the Rockets.