Defeats of Carolina Marin and Saina Nehwal were the talking points of the two semifinal ties in Delhi’s Siri Fort Sports Complex on Friday. With the two ace stars losing their matches, Hyderabad Hunters and Awadhe Warriors also made exits from the 2017 Vodafone Premier Badminton League. While Hyderabad Hunters’ Marin lost to Mumbai’s Sung Ji Hyun, Awadhe’s Saina Nehwal went down to Chennai Smashers’ PV Sindhu. Earlier on Thursday, Hyderabad had bounced back to semifinal reckoning by outplaying last year’s champions Delhi Acers but Mumbai Rockets proved too hot for them in the semifinal.
We are now down to the Grand Finale of the 2017 Vodafone Premier Badminton League between Mumbai Rockets and Chennai Smashers. Mumbai Rockets had made it to the finals last year as well but lost to Delhi to finish runners-up. They have performed very well this year and will be looking to eke out the title victory this time round. However, they are up against the talented players from Chennai Smashers in the championship game. Chennai Smashers were the first team to reach the finals on Friday after they defeated Awadhe Warriors 4-1 in a tense tie. Awadhe made a good beginning, when their mixed doubles pair of Savitree Amitrapai/Bodin Issara defeated Chennai’s yet unbeaten combo of Gabrielle Adcock/Chris Adcock 9-11, 11-8, 11-5. Savitree/Issara thus remained the only unbeaten team in the tournament. The Adcock couple also had maintained the unbeaten status until Friday but lost their match. In in the men’s singles match next, Chennai drew the tie level at 1-1, when Parupalli Kashyap defeated Awadhe’s Vincent Wong Wing Ki 11-4, 11-6. In the following men’s singles, however, Kidambi Srikanth of Awadhe was not found wanting and he restored a 2-1 lead for his team with a 14-12, 11-7 win over Tommy Sugiarto. Next on cards was the Trump match for Chennai and a hugely awaited duel between PV Sindhu and Awadhe’s Saina Nehwal. Sindhu played an extremely composed match against Saina and her 11-7, 11-8 victory over the former world no.1 gave Chennai a 3-2 lead in the tie. Now everything rested on the last men’s doubles match. Awadhe’s doubles pair of Goh W Shem/Markis Kido played the Trump match against Chennai’s Chris Adcock/Mads Pieler Kolding. The Chennai pair played exemplary badminton and by defeating Shem/Kido 11-3, 12-10 entered the final with the tie score of 4-1.
Later in the evening Mumbai Rockets faced Hyderabad Hunters, who had gate-crashed into the semifinals by defeating Delhi Acers 5-2 in their last tie on Thursday. That took them past Bengaluru Blasters to play against Mumbai for a place in the final. That tie began on a sad note for Hyderabad. They lost their women’s singles Trump match and allowed Mumbai to also win their men’s singles Trump match next. In the first match, Mumbai’s Sung Ji Hyun played brilliantly against the World and Olympic champion Carolina Marin. Sung Ji lost the first game 6-11 but bounced back to take the next two to win the match 6-11, 11-6, 11-5. The next was Mumbai’s Trump match, in which HS Prannoy defeated Hyderabad’s Sameer Varma 11-8, 15-13. With Mumbai taking an assailable 3-(-1) lead, the tie didn’t have to go its full distance. With all Trump matches over, there was no way Hyderabad could catch up even if they won all three remaining matches, because Mumbai’s effective lead was 4-0. In the end, Mumbai Rockets went through and they will lock horns with Chennai Smashers in Saturday’s all-important championship clash.
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