The Ahmedabad leg of the Premier Badminton League 2018-19 saw some exciting matches. It had its usual share of highs and lows.
Though there were some players who played beyond expectations and some who lived up to the challenge, there were also some who let themselves and their franchises down.
In the list below, there are six such players, which includes four singles players and a doubles pair.
Of the four singles players, two were expected to sail through their matches but managed to lose the matches, somehow. There is also a player who played with a higher ranked player. On the face of it, it may not come as a surprise, but the manner in which he capitulated after winning the first game in an impressive manner was certainly extremely disappointing.
There is another singles player in this list who actually won the match. But the manner of that victory against a much-lower-ranked player was so lackluster that it can only be termed a disappointment and her franchise would certainly hope for a much better performance from her in the knock-out stages.
The doubles pair in this list is one of the most popular in the world of badminton and their defeat came as a shock to not just their franchise and fans, but to the badminton world in general.
#1 Carolina Marin (Pune7 Aces)
This season of PBL has certainly not seen the best of the Olympic champion. Though she did play well against world number 32 Evgeniya Kosetskaya and won in a lop-sided manner 15-5, 15-6 to help her team tide over a lackluster Delhi Dashers, her performance against the world number 11 Korean Sung Ji Hyun was a disappointment.
Had she won the match, Pune7 Aces would have most certainly defeated the Chennai Smashers as they finally went down to the Chennai-based franchise by a close margin of 3-4. To her credit, she did not go down tamely and put up a spirited fight.
But from a player of her caliber, nothing but a win is required against players who are far below in world rankings. It was more of a disappointment for Marin since she came into this match with a 7-1 head-to-head record.
#2 Victor Axelsen (Ahmedabad Smash Masters)
Ahmedabad Smash Masters’ captain World champion Victor Axelsen’s form is reflective of the fortunes of his franchise this season. With him being in decent form in the initial stages of this season, Ahmedabad Smash Masters had in fact topped the season in the beginning.
However, his form has gotten worse ever since and so has his franchise's. In the Ahmedabad leg, he did eke out a hard-fought win against a lowly ranked Mark Caljouw, though that was still not enough for his franchise to win the tie against Hyderabad Hunters.
However, when it came to a more skilled opponent, he was found wanting against world number five Son Wan Ho of Awadhe Warriors to whom he lost 7-15, 15-8 and 10-15. His net game was especially disappointing and Son Wan Ho took full advantage of that.
#3 Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock (Chennai Smashers)
The world number five British husband-wife duo of Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock were the overwhelming favourites to get it past Kim Gi Jung and Pia Zebadiah Bernadet of Mumbai Rockets.
Chennai Smashers showed enough confidence in this renowned pair to make their match as the trump match after they had lost their first match against Mumbai Rockets. However, the Adcock pair flattered to deceive and lost a closely fought match 14-15, 14-15.
Though they tried their best, it was their slow start in both the games that eventually cost them the match. They had to play catch up for much of the two games and despite getting close to the finish line, they could not get it past the determined Mumbai pair.
By their lofty standard, this surely was a disappointment.
#4 P V Sindhu (Hyderabad Hunters)
It may come as a surprise to see PV Sindhu in the list of players who disappointed in the Ahmedabad leg. After all, she won her match, that too, a trump match to help Hyderabad Hunters eke out a closely fought tie against Ahmedabad Smash Masters by a 4-3 margin.
However, she is on this list purely because of the disappointing nature of her win. The world number three Sindhu was playing against a much lower ranked Kristy Gilmour and was expected to sail through.
But there were long stretches in the match where she was being out-maneuvered and outplayed by Gilmour. In fact, the two games Sindhu won went to the deciding point which she managed to win. The eventual score-line 15-14, 12-15, 15-14 is a true reflection of the extremely competitive nature of this match.
Though she did hold her nerves at crunch moments, she was certainly lucky to survive this encounter. Her level of play in this match was way below the lofty standards she has set for herself.
Hyderabad Hunters would certainly hope for a much better show from Sindhu during the knock out stages, starting from the semi-finals.
#5 Tian Houwei (North East Warriors)
The world number 22 Tian Houwei faced world number 16 Sai Praneeth of Bengaluru Raptors in a must-win game for his franchise, North East Warriors.
He began on the right note, by winning the first game 15-12. However, in the next two games, he simply failed to maintain the standard that he had displayed in the first game. He lost those games by lop-sided margins of 6-15 and 7-15.
Being a lower ranked player, it was credible that he was able to extend the match to three games. However, his lackluster display in the second and third games after the high of the first game must have disappointed him and his franchise no end. The nature of his capitulation after winning the first game in some style was quite surprising.