PBL 2018 | Ahmedabad Smash Masters to take on Mumbai Rockets in do-or-die tie
Ahmedabad Smash Masters, after a brilliant start to their campaign, faltered at the latter stage and will want to correct the mistakes when they will take on Mumbai Rockets today. Smash Masters will basically want their doubles duo for them to capitalize on the singles’ stars brilliant performance.
Ahmedabad succumbed to their second defeat of the season as Chennai Smashers rode on a brilliant PV Sindhu performance to down the debutants as the Indian ace, after beating Tai Tzu Ying in the singles, made the short work of Lee Reginald and Kamilla Juhl. While that might be a worrying sign, the debutants can take solace from the fact that their next opponent two-time finalists Mumbai Rockets have been producing shambolic results throughout the season and the singles’ stars have downed them, more often than not.
Sourabh Verma vs Sameer Verma
Clash of the brothers! Sourabh, who has been hot and cold in this season of the PBL, has come back to form by beating Frenchman Brice Leverdez in three games and that might be a worrying sign for his younger sibling. Sameer’s season, though, didn’t go as planned as it has been hampered by a shoulder injury and that resulted in his non-participation in the Japan Open in September. However, Sameer did manage to win the Syed Modi International championship and also reached a couple of Superseries quarter-finals last season. In the last match against Awadhe Warriors, Sameer defeated Harshit Aggarwal in straight games and Sourabh needs to pull up his socks to get the getter of the younger Verma.
Tai Tzu Ying vs Beiwen Zhang
Although Tai is enjoying the form of her life, her applecart was stopped by a determined PV Sindhu who pushed her out of her comfort zone and that resulted in the former missing from positions where she usually is at her deceptive best and that gave way to numerous unforced errors. However, she has an easy match today as her opponent Zhang is yet to register a single win from her last four ties. But, the China-born Zhang has the capability to upset any big players on her day and the Dutch Open title is a testament to the same. Although it is expected to be a one-sided tie, watch out for some sublime play from the “Queen of deception”.
HS Prannoy vs Son Wan Ho
HS Prannoy had an impressive winning streak of 10 games in the PBL, but on Saturday, he faltered in a dramatic manner after conceding numerous unforced errors in the match. But, only a fool will write him off as Prannoy knows how to make a comeback from the dicey situations. Former World No.1 Son Wan Ho, who has had a disastrous run in this season of PBL winning only a single game from four matches, will be his opponent for the game. The Korean consistently enjoys a place among the top-five players and knows a thing or two about how to take down any players on his day. The World Championship Bronze medalist will have to perform exceedingly well to stop Prannoy, though.
Kidambi Nandagopal/Lee Chun Hei Reginald vs Lee Yong Dae, Tan Boon Heong (Men’s doubles)
The Ahmedabad Smash Masters duo looked very comfortable against Chennai Smashers and Nandagopal has also shown glimpses of brilliance in close rallies. He was also helped by Reginald’s exceptional play at the backcourt and if the duo can do away with the minor chinks that haunted them on some of the points in the matches, they will be a huge task for Mumbai’s pair of Lee Yong Dae and Tan Boon Heong, who have won three matches out of four ties in this season. Dae, who has 43 Superseries titles to his name across men’s and mixed doubles, has been an absolute legend of the game and enjoys his position at the top of the world rankings in both men’s and mixed doubles. Tan Boon Heong was also a World No.1 and a former Commonwealth Games and Asian Games winner as well. It will be a tough ask for the Smash Masters’ duo to brush aside the Mumbai pair.
Kamilla Rytter Juhl/ Law Cheuk Him vs Lee Yong Dae /Gabriela Stoeva (mixed doubles)
The Smash Masters’ duo, despite being doubles specialist, couldn’t match up to their lofty reputations and went down to Chennai’s stop-gap arrangement of P.V. Sindhu and B. Sumeeth Reddy. It didn’t paint a good picture of the duo who have been brilliant on the international stage and when they will be up against Lee Yong Dae and Gabriela Stoeva, they will not have a lot of margin for error. The World No. 12 Stoeva won the European Games in 2015 and finished as the runners-up at the European Championships and the Swiss Open this year.
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