Mumbai: Mumbai Rockets started their Premier Badminton League campaign on a winning note as they turned the heat on Delhi Dashers and comfortably won their tie with 5-0 margin on Sunday here. In the second tie of the evening, Ahmedabad Smash Masters lead 3-1 after conclusion of four matches against North Eastern Warriors.
Star shuttler Saina Nehwal of North East sat out from the tie but her replacement Rituparna Das rose to the occasion and defeated Kirsty Glimour in straight sets. One match in the tie – Mixed Doubles – was yet to be completed.
The surprise package of the evening, however, was Mumbais Shreyanshi Pardeshi (World number 201) who overcame World number 32 Russian Evgeniya Kosetskaya. Pardeshi was a game down but then won the next two games to win the match 12-15, 15-8 and 15-10. This was Delhis trump match, which they ended up losing and also the only point they earned.
In the opening game, Shreyanshi struggled to tackle the height advantage of her Russian opponent and was mostly chasing the shuttle in rallies. But after losing the opening game, she changed tactics by hitting her tosses slightly higher and then going to quick cross-court drops.
Earlier, the Mumbai Rockets were off to a flying start as their South Korean mens double pair of Kim Gi Jung and Lee Yong Dae scored a come-from behind victory over their rivals Chai Biao and Wang Sijie 14-15, 15-12 and 15-9. After struggling in the first game, Dae and Jung were in their elements as they overcame the challenge from their opponents to clinch the enthralling match.
Their good work was carried forward by Denmarks Anders Antonsen in the mens singles, who beat his rival Tommy Sugiarto from Indonesia in straight sets 15-13, 15-7. Sugiarto came close in the first game but he could not match up to to Antosens aggression and brilliant smashes.
The second game was completely dominated by the Denmark national as he won without much fuss. Then came the match of the evening, when two star Indian shuttlers Sameer Verma, ranked number 14 and H S Prannoy, ranked 20, came face to face. Prannoy started on an aggressive note and was initially 4-0 ahead.
But Verma, seemed to have taken inspiration from Lee Yong Dae and made a splendid comeback as the first game was decided on the deciding point. Verma clinched the first game 15-14 and then gave Prannoy no room in the second game as he trounced him 15-9 to continue Mumbai Rockets winning run.
Verma hit some clean smashes to which Prannoy had no answer and Verma later admitted that a change in strategy worked in his favour. The mixed doubles pair of Lee Chia Hsin and Maneepong Jongjit gave Delhi Smashers their first point after they defeated Lee Yong Dae and Pia Zebadiah 15-11 and 15-12, but that was eventually lost when Shreyanshi won the womens singles tie.
Meanwhile, in the second tie, in the first men’s doubles match — the pair of Lee Chun Hei Reginald and Satwiksairaj Reddy (of Ahmedabad team) emerged triumphant against Liao Min Chun and Yoo Yaon Seong 10-15, 15-14 and 15-14 as the match went down the wire.
This was North East ‘s trump match which they lost and hence got a minus point. Then Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen extended the winning streak by defeating Tanongsak Sansomboonsuk in straight sets 15-11 ,15-14 to make it 3-(-1) in Ahmedabad’s favour. Then North East player Rituparna Das pulled one point back as she defeated her rival Kirsty Glimour 15-8, 15-9 to make it 3-0.
And then in the second men singles match, North East Warriors Tian Houwei defeated Daren Liew 15-11, 10-15 and 15-10 to make it 3-1. Though the tie has been decided in Ahmedabad’s favour, North East could win the remaining Mixed Doubles game and a win can come handy for them in the long run.