Axelsen hands Bengaluru Blasters edge in PBL final
Hyderabad, Jan 14 (PTI) World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen demolished Sai Praneeth in his Trump match to give Bengaluru Blasters a crucial edge over Hyderabad Hunters in the final of the third Premier Badminton League here today.
In front of a packed house at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium, Axelsen played with authority and won the crucial Trump and the third match 15-5, 15-10 as Blasters were 2-1 (3 -2) ahead on points at the midway stage.
The Hunters will hope that their star player Carolina Marin will keep them afloat in the contest by winning the Women's singles match. It will then boil down to the last clash, the Mixed Doubles, to make it a fitting finale.
The Hunters began on the back foot, with their men's doubles pair of Markis Kido and Yoo Yeon Seong failing to get into their groove and losing the first point.
They found the Blasters' Mathias Boe and Kim Sa Rang too hot to handle and gave in 0-2 without much of a fight. The stout Kido, who had controlled the game from the back of the court, just couldn't make his powerful smashes work.
It didn't help that his understanding with his partner Yoo Yeon was not top notch, allowing their opponents to exploit vast open spaces in the court.
The Hunters came back into the tie strongly, with their Trump player Lee Hyun Il coming up with a near immaculate game. The Korean was calm personified, dictating the pace and tone of the match to beat Subhanker Dey 2-0.
Lee Hyun, a southpaw, defended brilliantly, receiving everything that Subhanker threw at him. He kept the rallies going long until he found the perfect shot to finish off the point.
He shot away to a 4-2 and 8-5 lead even as Subhanker was trying to figure him out. Lee Hyun rode on the momentum to take the opening game 15-7.
The Korean fell behind at the start of the game, making a few unforced errors. He, however, fought back from 0-2 and 1-4 down to jump into the lead at 6-4.
He seemed to be cruising at 9-6 but his concentration wavered and he gave away a couple of easy points.
Subhanker took advantage of the lapses to catch him at 10-10. Lee Hyun inched ahead 12-10 but saw him by his side at 13-13 again. The experienced shuttler then produced two winners to seal the game and match 15-13