The second season of the Premier Badminton League (PBL-2) kicked off at Hyderabad on Sunday with two pulsating matches that saw the southern franchises Hyderabad Hunters and the Bengaluru Blasters clinch thrilling 4-3 wins over the Chennai Smashers and the Delhi Acers respectively.
In the first match, which was also the most-awaited one, Olympic champion Carolina Marin beat Smashers’ PV Sindhu 11-8, 12-14, 11-2 to set the tempo for the rest of the day. Chennai did get closer to victory when their star mixed doubles pair of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock won their Trump Match to put their team 3-1 up.
But the Hunters’ Rajiv Ouseph and the men’s doubles pair of Tan Wee Kiong and Tan Boon Heong dashed their hopes to gift a 4-3 victory to the hosts. The Englishman upset the reigning Denmark Open champion Tanongsak S 6-11, 11-8, 11-6 and then the Malaysian doubles exponents finished the job by winning their Trump Match 11-7, 11-8 over the Smashers’ Mads Pieler Kolding and B Sumeeth Reddy.
Sourabh Verma nearly upset the World No. 4 in the second PBL match
The second match of the day too had a lot of excitement and drama in store. It began with an enthralling clash between the World No. 2 and the World No. 3 men’s singles players – Jan O Jorgensen of the Acers and Viktor Axelsen of the Bengaluru Blasters. Both being from Denmark were very familiar with each other and also train often together.
It was the senior countryman and China Open winner Jorgensen who beat the European champion Axelsen, 11-9, 11-8 to put the defending champions Acers 1-0 up.
In the mixed doubles encounter, the in-form Sikki Reddy teamed up with the World No. 2 Ko Sung Hyun and they exhibited an impeccable show to put the Blasters back in contention. The Indo-Korean duo made short work of the Acers’ Jwala Gutta and Vladimir Ivanov, 11-6, 11-6.
The third match of the day turned out to be an absolute cracker. The Chinese Taipei Masters champion Sourabh Verma of the Blasters was on the verge of upsetting the World No. 4 Son Wan Ho in the Acers’ Trump Match. Ultimately, however, the 24-year-old could not complete the job as he went down fighting 15-13, 9-11, 6-11 after a tremendous effort that was, without any doubt, the best contest of the second PBL match on Day 1.
The Blasters soon erased that setback and steered the rest of this clash their way. Their men’s doubles duo of Hyun and Yoo sealed a 10-12, 11-3, 11-6 win over the seasoned World No. 9 combine of Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov.
The final match of the day – the women’s singles face-off between the Acers’ Tanvi Lad and the Blasters’ Cheung Yi was crucial because it was the Trump Match for the latter. Lad put up a mighty challenge but in the end, it was not enough as Cheung grabbed the vital Trump win, 11-9, 6-11, 11-2 and with it, sealed the overall 4-3 win for the Bengaluru franchise.