Bengaluru Blasters win a thriller, enter final

The Bengaluru outfit defeat Ahmedabad Smash Masters 4-3 in second semifinals

By Author  |  Published: 14th Jan 2018  1:18 am
Victor Axelsen who beat HS Prannoy in a key match on Saturday. — Photo: Guru G

Hyderabad: The second semifinal between Bengaluru Blasters and Ahmedabad Smash Masters went all the way down to the wire before the former recorded a close 4-3 victory to set up title clash with Hyderabad Hunters on Sunday.

While World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying won her trump match to put Smash Masters in 3-2 lead, World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen downed HS Prannoy to draw parity for the Bengaluru outfit at 3-3. With the scores locked, the mixed doubles pair of Sikki Reddy and Kim Sa Rang from Bengaluru put it across the Ahmedabad’s Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Law Cheuk Him 15-12, 13-15, 15-9 in the final match to seal the tie at the GMC Balayogi Indoor Stadium in Gachibowli on Saturday.

Earlier in the women’s singles trump match for Ahmedabad, Tai Tzu survived a scare against World No.16 Kirsty Gilmour. She recorded a hard-fought 8-15, 15-13, 15-8 victory to earn two crucial points for her side after they were trailing at 0-1. The Scot dished out a strong performance while Tai Tzu looked lost with net play in the first game.

The second game too started with Gilmour taking an early lead despite Tai’s powerful smash that struck her on the face. She went into the break at 8-5 lead. But the Chinese Taipei player got back her rhythm on resumption. With fast-paced smashes and deceptive touches at the net, Tai drew level at 12-all. Gilmour then committed silly errors by hitting wide and long as the match went into the decider.

The decider was a different game altogether. Tai played a solid game. She was good with her accurate smashes and net play to close the match 15-8.

In the men’s second singles, Axelsen extended his domination over India’s HS Prannoy to 5-0 with a straight-set 15-11, 15-14 victory to draw level at 3-3. The first game was fought on an even keel. Axelsen opened a good two-point lead at 12-10 after Prannoy hit long. The Denmark player them executed a down-the-line smash to pocket first game. Prannoy made unforced errors far too many in the second as Axelsen cruised to an 8-4 lead. But the Indian unleashed a barrage of smashes in a row to draw parity at 8-all. The lead kept changing before being locked at 11-11 and13-13. At 14-all, Prannoy hit the shuttle out.

In the opening the match, Sourabh Verma gave Masters a perfect start by defeating World No. 45 Chong Wei Feng 15-2, 14-14, 15-0. The Indian World No. 49 wasted little time in the first game as he run away with it in less than seven minutes. But the Malaysian bounced back in the next as he led 8-6 at the break. He then took next five points to take a 10-6 lead. But Sourabh staged a comeback to draw parity at 13-all. However, Feng took the match into decider with a close win. The decider was a neck-and-neck battle with both players at the tail of each other. But Feng committed hara-kiri hitting three shuttles out continuously to concede 10-13 lead. Sourabh didn’t let the Blasters’ player in again.

However, Blasters’ men’s doubles pair of Boe Mathias and Kim Sa Rang cruised to a comfortable 15-13, 15-12 victory over the pair of Kidambi Nandagopal and Lee Chun Hei Reginald in their trump match to take a 2-1 lead. The impressive Denmark and South Korea pair had things under control. The 6.1’ tall Dan used his height to the good effect at the net that proved crucial in their victory.