Mumbai Rockets ran out of their luck for second year in a row after they entered the final of Premier Badminton League. Last year they lost to Delhi Acers and in the recently concluded 2017 Vodafone PBL, Chennai Smashers defeated them in the summit clash. For PV Sindhu’s team, the PBL ended on a pleasant note with Sindhu herself remaining outstanding all through. Regardless, the 2017 final turned out to be a classic and both Chennai Sm
ashers and Mumbai Rockets fought till the end. The 4-3 narrow score-line itself conveys the impression that Chennai were up against a worthy opponent. After both teams were locked at 3-3 in the tie after four matches, the decision hung on the last match between Mumbai’s Ajay Jayaram and Chennai’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk. But Jayaram lost and so did Mumbai. It was the very first victory for the Chennai outfit in the coveted event that drew hordes of spectators at the four match venues over the last two weeks.
The final began with Chennai bringing out the time-tested mixed double team of Chris/Gabrielle Adcock in the Trump match against the Mumbai pair of Nipithphon Phuangphuapet/Nadiezda Zieba. True to their reputation, the Adcocks ruled the match and their 11-9, 11-6 victory sent Chennai cruising to a 2-0 lead. Then the mercurial PV Sindhu made it 3-0 by winning her singles match 11-8, 11-8 against Mumbai’s Sung Ji Hyun. The next match was the men’s doubles Trump for Mumbai Rockets and they fielded Lee Yong Dae/Nipithphon Phuangphuapet against the Chennai pair of Chris Adcock/Mads Pieler Kolding. Dae/Phuangphuapet didn’t face much trouble in disposing of Adcock/Kolding 12-10, 11-6. That result brought the tie score to 3-2 and when Mumbai’s HS Prannoy beat Chennai’s Parupalli Kashyap 11-4, 8-11, 11-8, Mumbai had drawn the tie level at 3-3.
Now, the 2017 championship had come to a point, where the last men’s singles match between Mumbai’s Ajay Jayaram and Chennai’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk became a bone of contention. Jayaram started off well and took the first game 11-9. But the Chennai men fought back and led 6-3 at break in the second game. At this point, Jayaram lapsed into making several unforced errors and the Thailand star feasted on them to take the second game 11-7. That sent the tie to the decider. By now, Saensomboonsuk had read well into Jayaram’s game and he carried the momentum from the second game into the third. With Jayaram failing to find his touch and kept yielding point after point, Saensomboonsuk held the upper hand. With the fight having gone from Jayaram’s arsenal, he succumbed to an 11-9, 7-11, 3-11 defeat. For Chennai, Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk became the hero as his performance in the last game of the tournament that brought the championship to Chennai Smashers.
Following Saensomboonsuk’s superb performance, Chennai Smashers were crowned as the first-time champions of 2017 Vodafone Premier Badminton League. For Mumbai, however, it was another disappointing final after their 2016 loss to Delhi Acers. With that final at Delhi’s Siri Fort Sports Complex, curtain came down on the fortnight long 2017 Vodafone Premier Badminton League, played at 4 venues across India. Like last year, Hyderabad Hunters couldn’t make a dent for the second year running. In 2016, they had the great Lee Chong Wei and this year they could rope in world no.1 Carolina Marin. Regardless, they failed to enter the final on both occasions.