PBL 2018 | Chennai Smashers ride on mercurial PV Sindhu to edge past Ahmedabad Smash Masters 2-1

PBL 2018 | Chennai Smashers ride on mercurial PV Sindhu to edge past Ahmedabad Smash Masters 2-1

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On a day when Tai Tzu Ying and HS Prannoy failed to make it count, Ahmedabad got a hero in Sourabh Verma who kept things interesting by beating Chennai’s trump card, Brice Leverdez. However, his heroics went in vain as the mixed pair of Juhl/Reginald went down to Sindhu/Reddy in the decider.

C. Adcock/ Y. Lee vs L.C.H Reginald/ K. Nandagopal

Opening the tie this time, the duo of Nandagopal and Reginald looked under less pressure, as they matched Chennai’s Adcock and Lee shot for shot. Though a momentary lapse in concentration led Chennai to level at 5-5 after Ahmedabad’s initial lead, they went into the break with a narrow 8-7 lead. Smash Masters’ confidence was showing after the break as they got two straight points to lead 10-7 and though Adcock/Lee hinted a comeback at 13-14, Nandagopal won the game point with a terrific smash.

Chennai came back extremely strong in the second game with Ahmedabad having no answer to their powerful smashes and before they could realize, Adcock/Lee were leading 6-2. Though Nandagopal and Reginald showed superb reflexes to return Chennai’s smashes as the game progressed, they could reduce the margin only to 8-5 at the break. Smash Masters, however, continued their momentum after the break as they leveled things at 8-8 before the one-sided game turned competitive with each side cancelling others’ point. However, Ahmedabad went on to take three straight points with the second game levelled at 12-12 to seal the first match. 

P.V. Sindhu vs T.T. Ying

Though Tai was the obvious favourite for the second game, a fitter Sindhu was expected to pose a stronger challenge to the Taiwanese than Saina Nehwal, who lost convincingly in the last match. After the much-anticipated match started on a promising note with Sindhu earning her first point with a brilliant cross-court smash keeping it out of her opponent’s reach, the Taiwanese raced on to lead 6-2. Though Sindhu did attempt to come back banking on some loose shots by Tai, Ahmedabad went into the break 8-5. Post break, however, the game saw multiple unforced errors by Tai that allowed Sindhu to come back at 10-10 and then lead 12-10 before the Indian shuttler went to win the game 15-11.

With Tai’s unbeaten record at stake and Sindhu at her clinical best, the second game was absolutely neck-to-neck that saw both the shuttlers besting each other. Sindhu was leading at 5-3 before Tai turned the table to go into the break leading 8-6. Though Sindhu showed flashes of her brilliance after the break, Tai didn’t let her lead go a waste and her persistence led Sindhu to commit errors. Tai levelled the match 1-1 by winning the second game 15-10.

The deciding game saw Sindhu starting on the front foot again as she raced on to lead 4-2 before Tai levelled the score at 4-4 and 5-5. However, Sindhu was not one to let go and though she was visibly out of steam, she managed to go into the break 8-6. Tai knew she had a good chance of a comeback and she levelled points at 9-9, 10-10 and 12-12, before her unforced error, Sindhu managed to eventually edge her out 15-12.  

B. Leverdez vs S. Verma

With PV Sindhu robbing Ahmedabad off a sure point quite unexpectedly by defeating Tai Tzu, Sourabh Verma had an uphill task on his hands, especially after the disheartening defeat against Parupalli Kashyap last game. And Ahmedabad’s man started the game quite domineeringly against a faltering Brice Leverdez, who was also Chennai’s trump card, winning four straight points before going into the break 8-6. However, the Frenchman was quick to come back by levelling points at 10-10 and 11-11, exploiting an inconsistent Verma, before winning the first game 15-12.

Sourabh failed to improve in the second game with Leverez going from strength to strength stepping on his opponent’s errors as he went into the break 8-5. The Indian looked a lost man immediately after the break with Leverdez comfortably aiming smashes at his body time and again to lead the game 13-9. However, Sourabh staged a stupendous comeback to win the game 15-14 forcing the match to a decider.

The third game saw a more confident Sourabh, who was still faltering though, looked to trust his attack more and Leverdez was finding it difficult to negotiate with his play. However, that didn’t stop the Frenchman from going into the break with a slender 8-7 lead. Sourabh took the game the game to his opponent following the break levelling things at 10-10, before winning the game 15-12 and the match 2-1. Chennai got a minus point after suffering a loss in the trump card match.  

T. Soensomboonsuk vs H.S. Prannoy

With Ahmedabad Smash Masters leading 2-0 their trump card, HS Prannoy, had the glorious chance of sealing the tie with one game left. However, the Indian ace started on the back foot with Tanongsak going into the break with an 8-4 lead. Prannoy’s error-prone game continued after the break as he failed to return Tanongsak’s beautiful jump smashes as the Thai shuttler went on to lead 12-8, before winning the game 15-10.

The second game started on a more competitive note that saw no player leaving space for each other with the points getting levelled at 2-2, 3-3, 4-4 and 5-5 before Prannoy led into the break with three straight points (8-5). Tanongsak came stronger after the break winning five straight points to lead 10-8 before it was Prannoy’s turn to draw level before eventually winning the game 15-12.

The win seemed to give Prannoy all the confidence that he needed and it was showing in his movements. Despite Tanongsak having his moments, Prannoy kept him at an arm’s length, going into the break leading 8-6. Prannoy remained in attack mode after the break but his occasional errors never allowed him to take the game beyond doubt and Tanongsak eventually came back to level things at 14-14 before winning the match with an enthralling rally that lasted 51 shots. HS Prannoy’ 10-match winning finally ended with the smash winner but on a more important note, it left the tie 1-1 in the balance. 

P.V. Sindhu/B.S Reddy vs L.C.H. Reginald/K.R. Juhl  

Juhl was joined by her old partner Reginald for the deciding match after things didn’t quite work out in the last game against Awadhe, and it was already having effect. With a non-regular doubles player like Sindhu at the other end, things were understandably comfortable for the Ahmedabad mixed duo as they led into the break 8-4. Reddy did his best to steady the mast but Gabrielle Adcock’s absence was heavily felt by Chennai Smashers. Juhl and Reginald looked too good for Sindhu/Reddy at times and if not for their occasional errors the game wouldn’t have levelled at 14-14. Ahmedabad had only themselves to blame as Chennai won the first game 15-14. 

 The second game didn’t see anything different as the pair if Juhl/Reginald played sufficiently well to dominate the game but gave away cheap points repeatedly which helped Sindhu and Reddy to level things at 7-7 before going into the break 8-7. Chennai were sniffing a victory now with their faulty opponents making it all the easy for them as they led 12-9 before sealing the game 15-13 and winning the tie. 

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