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PBL 2018 | HS Prannoy guides Ahmedabad Smash Masters to convincing 4-3 victory over Hyderabad Hunters

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PBL 2018 | HS Prannoy guides Ahmedabad Smash Masters to convincing 4-3 victory over Hyderabad Hunters

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SportsCafe Desk


Ahmedabad Smash Masters continued their winning run in their debut PBL campaign as they defeated Hyderabad Hunters 4-3 in their second tie. The fourth game between HS Prannoy and B Sai Praneeth turned out to be the deciding match as Smash Masters’ trump card sealed the tie with a match in hand.

K.R. Juhl/L.C.H. Reginald vs P.Z.Bernadeth/ S.Rankireddy

Despite losing to North Eastern Warriors’ mixed doubles duo of P.Sawant and S.B. Cheol 2-0 last match, Ahmedabad Smash Masters decided to keep faith with Juhl and Reginald on Friday when they took on Hyderabad Hunters’ Bernadeth and Rankireddy. Juhl and Reginald made a slow start yet again as young Rankireddy exhibited quick reflexes to make the score 4-0. Smash Masters were visibly struggling to get going and saw their first point from a mishit by the 17-year-old as the Hunters went into the break 8-1. Any attempt by Hyderabad to get back looked futile as Rankireddy tamed his opponents to win the first game 4-15. Ahmedabad had to find a solution in the second game and Juhl took it upon herself. The game remained at level points for quite some time before Ahmedabad eventually took a lead at 10-8. Smash Masters didn’t let the lead go from there as they ended a successful rally to win the second game 15-12 and levelled the game 1-1. Hyderabad started the final game on the front foot again with two straight points but Ahmedabad kept coming back before Juhl/Lee took a big lead at 6-3. Smash Masters went into the break 8-5 after a slight hint of a comeback by Hunters and that was pretty much the last attempt as Ahmedabad went onto further widen the gap at 12-5 before winning the match 15-8.

Sourabh Verma vs Lee Hyun Il

Verma was up against the vastly experienced Lee in the second game and the South Korean looked visibly comfortable right from the beginning as he effortlessly led his opponent 4-2. Verma looked out of ideas to Lee’s brilliant tactics as the Hunters led into the break 8-2. Though Verma fetched points through Lee’s occasional unforced errors, the Korean went on to win the first game 15-9 without breaking any sweat whatsoever. The second game wasn’t any different and though the Indian did well to reduce the ever-increasing point margin at 4-6, he had exhausted himself by then and Lee commanded proceedings for much of the game. Though Sourabh made a late comeback at 8-11, the result looked quite inevitable by then as Lee won the match with a backhand slice that Verma failed to pick up. 

Tai Tzu Ying vs Rasika Raje

Probably the most one-sided match of the tie, the result of which was known much before the game even started. Hyderabad’s decision to rest Carolina Marin was surprising to many and one could really feel for 22-year-old Raje as she took the court against the World No. 1. Before Raje could get a measure of things, Tai was already leading 4-0 exhibiting some scintillating deception in her wake for the crowd to cheer for. Though Raje managed to win a point at 4-1, it was hardly encouraging as Tai was quick to widen the gap to 6-1 and run away with the game 15-5 in no time. Raje had gifted away easy points to her opponents in the first game and was expected at the least to rectify them in the second game if not make amends for it, but she was given no chance whatsoever by Tai this time. Tai was leading 4-0 in no time and though Raje got occasional points via some uncharacteristic unforced errors by the Taiwanese, they were very rare and Tai went on to win the game 15-6 without any effort whatsoever.

HS Prannoy vs B Sai Praneeth

With Tai bringing back the lead to Ahmedabad’s court, Prannoy had a lot riding on his shoulders as he had the chance to seal the tie by beating Hyderabad’s B Sai Praneeth. Sai didn’t start in the best of ways and was looking quite under-confident as Prannoy led 6-2 in no time. However, Prannoy’s unforced errors were proving to be costly and Sai was allowed to draw parity at 6-6 as he capitalized on his momentum to lead 8-6. However, callous mistakes remained the balancing factor in the topsy-turvy game as Prannoy was allowed to come back successfully at 9-9 before the Smash Masters’ trump card went on to the seal the game 15-10. Despite looking lethal with his impeccable smashes, Sai had reason enough to aspire a comeback into the game for Prannoy’s occasional unforced errors. The second game saw both the players enjoying relative success as both outplayed each other repeatedly, though Prannoy kept his lead intact and went into the break 8-5. However, for all of Sai’s hints of a comeback in the second game, he could only snatch three more points in the rest of the game as Prannoy ran away with the game 15-8 quite comfortably taking the tie beyond doubt at 4-1.

K.Nandagopal/ L.H.C Reginald vs M.Kido/ Y.Y Seong

With the tie already lost, Hyderabad was left with a late chance to end the evening with a respectable score. Though Kido and Seong started loosely with Nandagopal and Reginald dominating proceedings to some extent at 4-3, Hyderabad duo’s experience was soon showing through the variety of shots as Hyderabad led the game 8-6 under immense pressure. However, Ahmedabad weren’t one to accept defeat and they made comebacks at 11-11 and 14-14 before an Ahmedabad error saw Hyderabad edge them out right at the end of the first game. Hunters had got the much needed confidence by now and they started the second game with six straight points before Ahmedabad got some hold in the game at 7-8 through Nandagopal’s lightning quick reactions. However, Hunters managed to keep their lead intact till the end as the game ended 15-11.

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