With the help of Ajay Jayaram and Michelle Li’s heroic performance, North Eastern Warriors emerged victorious over Viktor Axelsen-led side Bengaluru Blasters. North Eastern Warriors registered a 3-2 win over Bengaluru based franchise at Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai.
The Bengaluru based team who led the points table managed to win their men’s doubles, mixed doubles, and men’s singles encounter. North Eastern Warriors managed to win crucial men’s singles and women’s singles clash thanks to Jayaram and Li respectively.
The first match of the tie went Bengaluru's way as the in-form team got an ideal start to the day. The men's doubles pair of Mathias Boe and Kim Sa Rang worked in the favor of the team by registering a 15-12, 7-15, 15-12 win over Kim Gi Jung and Shin Baek Cheol.
Boe and Rang began the match on a high note with a victory in the first game. However, the North Eastern pair fought back brilliantly and won the second game 7-15. Boe and Rang controlled their nerves and displayed immense resilience in the decider which helped them to dig out a 15-12 victory in the final game to win the match.
The scenario of the match began to change for the Warriors with the second tie of the day which was Bengaluru’s trump match where Warrior’s skipper Jayaram gave the much-needed lead by defeating Chong Wei Feng in the men’s singles.
The Indian looked better player against the 30-year-old Feng and registered a 15-8 win in the first game. But early in the second game, the duo involved in the first long rally of the match. Jayaram won the point with a smash, but Feng had played enough number of good shots and create some trouble for the Indian as he got a 5-2 lead at one point. Despite that, Jayaram remained calm which worked in his favor and he showed his effective performance at the forecourt with his lifts and good drop shots at the net which helped him in closing the second game 15-13.
After the match result, the Warriors went 1-0 up as the Blasters got a negative point for losing the trump clash.
Michelle Li work hard to overcome Scotland’s Kristy Gilmour 7-15, 15-14, 15-13 in a closely fought trump match which gives North Eastern Warriors an unassailable 3-0 lead.
With the help of the powerful smashes, Gilmour outclassed Li to win the first game 15-7. However, Li displayed a remarkable comeback in the second game and produced some beautiful drop shots and entered in the break with the 8-6 lead and soon stunned Gilmour by winning it 15-14 and forced the game into the decider. Despite being tired in the third set, Li brilliantly fightback as at one moment she faced 6-8 deficit but ended with 15-13 score.
The captain of the Blasters Viktor Axelsen then came out to save some pride of his team. The world No. 1 won a nail-biting tie against Chinese Taipei’s Tzu Wei Wang in the second men’s singles clash of the day. After losing the first game 9-15, Axelsen bounced back in the next with a 15-13 win and took the match into the decider. Wang decided to up his performance in the third game which raised the intensity bar of the tie. In the decider, the scorecard showed 10-10, 11-11, 12-12, 13-13, 14-14 and finally, Axelsen proved why he is world champion as he won the game 15-14.
In the last encounter of the night, the Blasters' mixed doubles pair of Sikki Reddy and Manu Attri also came from behind to beat Prajakta Sawant and Shin Baek Cheol 15-12, 8-15, 15-9 to add another point for the Blasters.
The Blasters will next play against Chennai Smashers in Chennai on January 8 while North Eastern Warriors will play their last group tie against Delhi Dashers in Hyderabad on January 10.