PBL 2018 | Hyderabad Hunters beat Bengaluru Blasters; will face Delhi Dashers in semis
Hyderabad Hunters registered 6-(-1) win over Bengaluru Blasters in the last league match at Gachibowli Indoor Stadium to top the table with 20 points. The result meant that Hyderabad will face Delhi Dashers in the first semifinal clash while Bengaluru will have to take on Ahmedabad Smash Masters.
It was a memorable day for the Hyderabad based team who didn’t lose a single match against the Blasters who faced losses in the mixed doubles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, and two men’s singles clash. It seemed like the home team used this clash to warm-up themselves ahead of the important game.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Pia Zebadiah gave a winning start to Hyderabad Hunters as they handed defeat to the Indian duo of Manu Attri and N Sikky Reddy 15-6, 14-15, 15-9 and opened the score tally for the team.
After losing the opening game Blasters were hoping that Chong Wei Feng would manage to wing the momentum back their favor. However, the challenge of Sai Praneeth in the men’s singles clash proved to be too big an ask. However, one would not have guessed that by the start of the game as Feng took the opening game 15-10. But in the second game, Praneeth found his momentum as he mixed the big smashes with some delectable drops at the net to force the match to a decider. The home crowd witnessed an exciting match as Feng was in no mood in giving up easily and in the later stages of the game leveled scores at 14-14. But the Indian shuttler kept his nerves in control which helped him secure a 10-15, 15-7, 15-14 victory over the Bengaluru star.
The third game was the women’s singles encounter where Hyderabad’s Carolina Marin played against World No. 16 Kirsty Gilmour. The Olympic champion didn’t Gilmour any quarter and secure the match 15-9, 15-7 in straight games.
In the second men’s singles of the day, Shubhakar Dey replaced Axelsen in the line-up against Hyderabad’s trump match who sent in the experienced Lee Hyun Il. The Indian player, who is 13 years younger to his opponent, tried to put some challenge in the front of Il as the match went into the decider. But the 37-year-old was quite comfortable in the final game as he won the tie 15-11, 11-15, 15-11.
It was just a formality for the teams to play the final match of the day which was the men’s doubles affair. Mathias Boe and Kim Sa Rang failed to win the trump match for the Blasters as a consolation for their team as Markis Kido and Yoo Yeon Seong handed them a 15-10, 11-15, 15-7 defeat.
Despite losing the tie, the Blasters will meet Ahmedabad Smash Masters on Saturday in the second semifinal of the league.