New Zealand Open: Parupalli Kashyap falls to Sourabh Verma, HS Prannoy wins
Seventh seeded Sourabh Verma edged the 15th seeded Parupalli Kashyap in three games for a berth in the quarter-finals of the $120,000 SkyCity New Zealand Open 2017 along with the US Open champion HS Prannoy. Verma eked out a thrilling 21-18, 13-21, 21-16 win over the US Open runner-up in what was a blockbuster pre-quarter-final contest that lasted 1 hour 4 minutes.
The fourth seeded Prannoy, meanwhile, did not drop any game in his 21-18, 21-19 victory over the 10th seeded Wei Nan of Vietnam. He is now on a nine-match winning streak.
While the 37th ranked Verma will now face the World No. 88 Lee Cheuk Yiu of Hong Kong, the 17th ranked Prannoy has the 11th seed and World No. 48 Lin Yu Hsien to deal with next.
Siril Verma bows out
The young Siril Verma did not share the same fortunes as Verma and Prannoy, though. The 17-year-old, seeded 16th at this Grand Prix Gold tournament, went down 13-21, 14-21 to the World No. 123 Chia Hung Lu of Chinese Taipei. The two had been familiar opponents in the junior circuit with Lu being the player to whom the Indian lost in the final of the 2015 World Junior Championships.
Lu has been a giant-killer at the New Zealand Open this week and had accounted for the second seed Ajay Jayaram in the very first round.
Verma vs Kashyap lives up to expectations
The Verma vs Kashyap encounter - their first ever meeting at the international level - fully lived up to the expectations. The younger countryman had the brighter start of the two as Kashyap initially struggled with his rhythm.
Verma went up 8-3 and then extended it to 15-8 before the Commonwealth Games champion started showing some semblance of a fightback. In an exciting end to the first game, Kashyap reduced the gap to just one point at 17-18 and nearly snatched the opener before Verma slammed it shut.
The 30-year-old was then totally in control of the second game and cruised to 11-7 at the interval. Short and quick rallies featured mostly in that game as Kashyap gave no room to Verma. From 16-10, he finished it in style.
Verma again set the pace and dictated the proceedings in the decider only to see the World No. 47 storming back to 11-11. That is where the Dhar native accelerated while Kashyap simply fell apart.
Sourabh raced ahead to 17-12 and quickly reached match points at 20-14. The former World No. 6 saved a couple of them in the end but could not prevent the spirited Verma from reaching his first quarterfinal since January’s Syed Modi International.