Mumbai Rockets, Awadhe Warriors and Chennai Smashers have already qualified as semifinalists in the 2017 Vodafone Premier Badminton League. The system of earning or losing points in Trump Matches coupled with the 11-point tournament format has made crucial differences in several ties. While Mumbai were the first to reach the semifinals, Awadhe ensured their place in the last-four by defeating Bengaluru Blasters 4-3 on January 9. Next day, it was Chennai’s turn. PV Sindhu’s team not only handed Mumbai their first defeat of the tournament but the 4-1 victory also made them the third team to reach the semifinals. In Bangalore’s fifth league game on January 11, Awadhe Warriors shot up to the top spot to leave Mumbai at second place. The Lucknow team did this, despite their 3-4 loss against Chennai. The fourth semifinalist will emerge after the last league game between Delhi Acers and Hyderabad Hunters in Delhi. Thereupon, the two semifinals will be played on January 13 and the final on January 14. That will bring the curtain down on this year’s PBL.
Bangalore’s Koramangala Indoor Stadium served as home venues for Bengaluru Blasters as well as Chennai Smashers during January 8-11, 2017. On January 8, 2016 defending champions Delhi Acers registered their first win of 2017 season by defeating Chennai Smashers 5-2. After doing reasonably well, Chennai suffered an odd loss with only PV Sindhu winning her Trump match. In the first match, Delhi’s Jan O Jorgensen defeated Tommy Sugiarto 10-12, 11-4, 11-6 and Delhi continued the rampage, when their mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta/Vladimir Ivanov defeated Chennai’s PV Sindhu/Chris Adcock 7-11, 11-4, 11-9; Son Wan Ho beat Parupalli Kashyap 12-10, 11-4 in men’s singles and Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov beat Chris Adcock/Mads Pieler Kolding 11-6, 11-6 in men’s doubles. However, Chennai earned a bonus point, when PV Sindhu defeated Delhi’s Tanvi Lad 11-6, 11-7.
In the second league game on January 8, Mumbai Rockets outplayed Bengaluru Blasters 4-1. Mumbai began with their men’s singles player HS Prannoy beating Bengaluru’s Sourabh Varma 4-11, 11-6, 11-3 but Blasters men’s doubles team of Ko Sung-Hyun/Yoo Yeon Seong leveled the tie 1-1 by beating Lee Yong Dae/Nipithphon Phuangphuapet 11-7, 7-11, 11-5. However, Mumbai bounced back, when Bengaluru lost their men’s singles Trump match with Viktor Axelsen losing 8-11, 9-11 to Mumbai’s Ajay Jayaram. Mumbai also won their own Trump women’s singles match as Sung Ji Hyun beat Cheung Ngan Yi 11-7, 11-8. Bengaluru reduced the deficit by one point with the victory in mixed doubles as Ko Sung-Hyun/Sikki Reddy beat Mumbai’s Nipithphon Phuangphuapet and Nadiezda Zieba 11-6, 11-7.
On January 9, Awadhe Warriors became the second team to reach semifinals of 2017 PBL by defeating Bengaluru Blasters 4-3. After Bengaluru took a 1-0 lead with Sourabh Varma’s 13-11, 11-7 victory over Vincent Wong Wing Ki, Awadhe’s mixed doubles pair of Savitree Amitrapai/Bodin Isara leveled the tie with an 11-9, 4-11, 11-5 win over Ko Sung-Hyun/Sikki Reddy. Kidambi Srikanth made it 2-1 for Awadhe in his 11-19, 11-9 win over Viktor Axelsen in men’s singles. Though both teams won their Trump matches next, Awadhe finished winners at 4-3 and entered the semifinals.
On January 10, Chennai Smashers did likewise by defeating Mumbai Rockets 4-3. It was Mumbai’s first defeat of the tournament but that match decided 2017 PBL’s third semifinalist. Mumbai started off well with HS Prannoy beating Chennai’s Parupalli Kashyap 11-9, 13-11. However, Chris & Gaby Adcock took Chennai 2-1 ahead by defeating Mumbai’s Chirag Shetty/Nadiezda Zieba 9-11, 11-2, 11-7 in the Trump mixed doubles match. Chennai enhanced their lead with Tommy Sugiarto defeating Mumbai’s Ajay Jayaram 8-11, 11-2, 11-5 in men’s singles. In women’s singles PV Sindhu defeated Mumbai’s Sung Ji Hyun and despite Mumbai winning their Trump men’s doubles match, Chennai went 4-3 through.
On the last day of the Bangalore leg, Chennai recorded another victory by edging out Awadhe Warriors 4-3 but couldn’t attain the second spot in overall rankings. Awadhe played without Saina Nehwal but still did reasonably well. In men’s singles, Vincent Wong Wing Ki beat Chennai’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 6-11, 11-9, 12-10 but Chris/Gaby Adcock brought the tie level at 1-1 with a mixed doubles 11-4, 11-9 victory over Awadhe’s Bodin Isara/P Sawant. Later, Parupalli Kashyap won the men’s singles Trump match for Chennai by defeating Awadhe’s Aditya Joshi 11-7, 5-11, 11-7 and PV Sindhu followed up by beating Awadhe’s Rituparna Das 11-4, 11-6. However, Awadhe won their Trump match, when Goh V Shem/Markis Kido defeated Chennai’s B Sumeeth Reddy/Mads Pieler Kolding 12-10, 11-8 in men’s doubles.
The last leg of this year’s PBL begins in Delhi on January 12. The only remaining league game between Delhi and Hyderabad will decide the fourth semifinalist on that day. Defending champions Delhi Acers are nearly out of contention but Hyderabad could displace Bengaluru from the fourth spot to figure in the final four. On January 13, the two semifinals will be played and the final is slated for Saturday January 14.
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