Chennai [India]: Shuttler Sourabh Verma of Ahmedabad Smash Masters came back from a game down to beat Chennai Smashers’ trump player Brice Leverdez, 12-15, 15-14, 15-12 to push Chennai towards the wall in the Vodafone Premier Badminton League (PBL) here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium.
The win sends Ahmedabad 2-1 up (2-0 up on points) in the five-match duel.
Brice was initially pushed on the back and went down 6-8 early in the match on Saturday. But, Sourabh could not maintain his dominance and Brice exerted his dominance to win the first game.
In the second game, the 31-year old Frenchman was cruising his way to victory, but his error-prone play saw Sourabh save three match points to force the match into the third game.
In the third match, Brice got off to a great start, but the Indian shuttler was in no mood to let go of the momentum and despite being down for a major period of the game, he finally won to deal a huge blow to the Chennai Smashers.
Earlier, World No. 3 P.V Sindhu registered a stunning victory over World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei to help the defending champions Chennai Smashers, draw level against Ahmedabad Smash Masters.
It was a huge win for Chennai as they were 0-1 down earlier in the tie and Sindhu’s loss would have put them in a very precarious position. However, the Rio Olympics silver medalist did not disappoint as she beat Tai Tzu 15-11, 10-15, 15-12 to keep Chennai alive in the do-or-die contest.
This was also Tai Tzu’s first loss in this season.
Chennai who came into the tie last in the standings, with seven points to their tally, needed a loss as it would end their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages in the Vodafone PBL season.
The Taiwanese shuttler who came at the back of a stunning win over Saina Nehwal started from where she left. Tai Tzu was almost unplayable and deceived Sindhu with her clever drops. She raced to an 8-5 lead and it looked like the Taiwanese shuttler would close the game without much of a competition from Sindhu.
However, after the break, Sindhu, heavily strapped on her right thigh, was a much different player and switched gears to eventually seize the momentum and go up in the match.
In the second game, Sindhu cashed in on Tai Tzu’s initial mistakes and blitz to an early lead. But, Tai Tzu came back strong to lead 8-6 at the break.
After the breather, even though Sindhu started the proceeding by winning two consecutive points, it was the World No. 1 player, who maintained her composure to finish the game to take the match into the decider.
In the third game, Sindhu took the charge early and aided by her opponent’s unforced errors, she entered with a lead of 8-6.
After the change of ends, Tai Tzu, known for her ability to bounce back from nowhere, fought herself back in the contest and gave Sindhu no place to breathe. However, Sindhu remained cool as an ice and with scores tied 12-12, she won three straight points to send the packed stadium into a euphoric mood.
Sindhu said after the match: “It was a great win and I feel I did extremely well to beat Tai Tzu. She played very well and I am really happy to have won the match. The crowd was extremely motivating and their support helped me a lot in getting this win.”
In the first match of the day, the men’s doubles pair of Lee Chun Hei Reginald and Kidambi Nandagopal beat the pair of Chris Adcock and Lee Yang 15-13, 15-12, to steer the Ahmedabad Smash Masters to a win and register their first point of the day.
In the opening game, it was a close contest with both the teams looking in great shape. Even though it was a tight contest, Ahmedabad went on to win the game to seize the early initiative into the match.
However, the Chennai pair bounced back and looked to be a better pair on the court in the opening game. They went into the interval leading 8-5.
They way Adcock and Lee were playing, it looked like they would go and draw level, but the Ahmedabad pair had different plans as they changed gears after the break and raced way to their victory.
The Vodafone Premier Badminton League is held under the aegis of the Badminton Association of India and is organised by Sportzlive, the official licensee partner of the league.
The Vodafone Premier Badminton League Season 3 is the world’s richest prize money badminton tournament, offering a prize worth Rs 6 crores.
The inaugural match of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League took place on December 23, 2017, in Guwahati and the finale will be held on January 14 in Hyderabad.
Eight franchises – representing the cities of Delhi, Hyderabad, Awadh, Chennai, North-East, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Bangalore – are competing. (ANI)