Rio Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu beat senior countrywoman Saina Nehwal 11-7, 11-8 in the much-anticipated women’s singles match to guide the Chennai Smashers to a 4-1 victory over the Awadhe Warriors in the semi-finals of the 2017 Premier Badminton League (PBL-2) at Delhi on Friday.
The Smashers will meet the winner of the second semi-final between the Mumbai Rockets and the Hyderabad Hunters as they aim for their maiden title at this six-franchise pan-India league.
Saina vs Sindhu cynosure of all eyes
Sindhu and Saina met for the first time after their last meeting at the Syed Modi International three years ago. Needless to say, the lion’s share of attention was on this match.
There was added responsibility on the 21-year-old Chennai ace as she was fielded as the Trump player for the evening. But she showed maturity beyond her age which had propelled her to the Olympic medal and the China Open title last year.
Even though Saina has still not reached peak fitness after her knee surgery, she gave quite a fight in the opener. After Sindhu went up 4-2, Nehwal used her drop shots remarkably well to level at 5-5 and inch ahead to 6-5 at the break.
They were engaged in superb rallies till 7-7 after which Saina’s errors at the net and Sindhu’s sizzling smashes helped the latter to bag the opener, 11-7. Sindhu stormed out of the blocks in the second game to open up a 5-2 lead and had a 6-3 advantage at the lemon break.
The two played a bruising 48-shot rally showcasing both of their skills and it ended with the younger Indian’s deft touch at the net for a score of 7-5 in Chennai’s favour. Exhibiting a lot of hunger and drive, the World No. 6 surged to 9-5 before Nehwal used beautiful drop shots to close the gap to 8-9.
But she could not keep it going any more in the face of Sindhu’s onslaught, who clinched the next two points for the win.
In the other singles matches of the day, Chennai’s Parupalli Kashyap played a brilliant match to pummel Awadhe’s World No. 17 Vincent Wong Wing-ki, 11-4, 11-6. His effort was soon cancelled out by the India No. 1 Srikanth Kidambi, who eked out a nail-biting opening game and then sailed smoothly through the second to post a 14-12, 11-7 victory over the Smashers’ Tommy Sugiarto.
Adcock wins it for the Smashers
England’s doubles star Chris Adcock had mixed fortunes as he earlier lost his mixed doubles match alongside his wife Gabrielle, 11-9, 8-11, 5-11 to the World No. 10 duo of Bodin Isara and Savitree Amitrapai in the opening match of the tie.
The Englishman then made amends in the men’s doubles match where he partnered Denmark’s Mads Pieler Kolding. They raced out to an 8-0 lead before the Awadhe Trump pair of Markis Kido and V Shem Goh could even get on the board.
They wrapped it up 11-3 and started the second game in the same fashion only to see the Awadhe combine coming back to snatch a 6-5 lead.
The Smashers duo then came from behind level at 9-9 and both of them brought out their attacking game before Adcock sealed it for his team with a power-packed smash directed at Kido for an 11-3, 12-10 victory.