The Smash Masters had a memorable debut season as the side ended their campaign on Saturday losing to Bengaluru, as the tie went all the way to the final match. After Sourabh Verma and Tai Tzu Ying gave them the lead, Prannoy failed to overcome Axelsen’s challenge as ASM succumbed to a 4-3 loss.
C.W. Feng vs S. Verma
Getting success through offensive play and closing down his opponents fast, Verma’s tactics were clear - to establish his dominance even before Feng got a hold in the game. The Malaysian shuttler’s weak
K.S. Rang/M. Boe vs L.C.H. Reginald/K. Nandagopal
Ahmedabad’s men’s doubles weren’t the
K. Gilmour vs T.T. Ying
Hardly had anyone thought that Gilmour could scare the life out of Ahmedabad while facing Tai Tzu Ying. Ahmedabad’s trump card, who had been the best singles player in PBL this season by miles, was kept more on the backcourt by Gilmour’s long serves. The Scotswoman had her position to perfection while dealing with the World No. 1 and it seemed to be working perfectly for her. Her plan was simple, not letting Tai stay in midcourt from where she could pick up her deceptive placements, and use her physicality also helped keep her jump smashes out of Tai’s reach. The Bengaluru star kept her shots either far at the backcourt or at the front, where Tai was uncharacteristically error-prone in the initial stages. However, all the successful plans looked to go down the gutter as Gilmour started to lose steam as the second game progressed and Tai stayed alive with her unparalleled stamina. The late comeback by Tai in the second game dispirited Gilmour as much as it encouraged the Taiwanese. Gilmour’s movements lacked the sting that was buoying her early on and before she could realize it, Tai had sealed the last game.
V. Axelsen vs H.S. Prannoy
Ahmedabad had a realistic chance of sealing the tie and who could they trust more than the mercurial HS Prannoy. The Indian shuttler had lost only once in his last twelve PBL games and looked confident coming into the game. Prannoy started quite positively against the World No.1, Axelsen, but the Danish ace could do everything, what Prannoy does, only better. Anything short on Prannoy’s return was faced by a fierce smash by 6ft 4inch man who hardly had to break a sweat to work his opponent. Prannoy’s points came mostly in the front-court lobs that stretched Axelsen, but the Danish mixed his shots really well getting the most accurate of angles in his cross-court smashes. There never seemed a doubt about the result, despite all the lead Prannoy took early on in each game. The Indian ace had no answer to Axelsen’s inside out smashes as well, which were equally lightning quick as his cross court shots, and the only chink in Axelsen’s
K.S. Rang/ N.S. Reddy vs L.C. Him/ K.R. Juhl