PBL 2020: Chennai Superstarz beat Awadhe Warriors to seal semi-final spot

Dhruv and Satwik in action
Dhruv and Satwik in action

Chennai Superstarz bounced back to winning ways to confirm their semi-final berth in a tight 4-3 win over the Awadhe Warrriors at the GMC Balayogi SATS Indoor Stadium. The enthralling tie went down to the wire and was decided only in the fifth rubber as the Lucknow-based franchise made their first appearance in Hyderabad.

Having lost the men’s doubles match earlier in the day, Chennai’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy looked eager to make amends in mixed doubles alongside Jessica Pugh after the two sides were locked at 3-3. They started off on a thunderous note, taking the first game against Awadhe’s Christinna Pedersen and Ko Sung Hyun. The blue brigade made a strong comeback to level the match at one game apiece before Rankireddy and Pugh showed nerves of steel to seal the tie with a 15-11, 13-15, 15-14 win.

Having suffered his first defeat of the season to World No. 37 Loh Kean Yew in Chennai’s most recent tie, Lakshya Sen came prepared as he took on Subhankar Dey of the Awadhe Warriors.

In a strong performance, exhibiting his range, the World No. 32 did not allow Dey to settle into the match at all as he secured a commanding 15-7, 15-8 win. This was the former Asian Junior champion’s fourth win in five appearances.

Sen’s win was complimented by the 2014 World Championships bronze medallist Tommy Sugiarto who showed the same confidence and conviction in an effortless Trump win for the Superstarz. The Indonesian, who is yet to lose this season, grabbed his fourth win on the trot as he demolished Wong Wing Ki Vincent 15-10, 15-8.

While Chennai emerged victorious in the two men’s singles rubbers, Awadhe Warriors had the upper hand in women’s singles and men’s doubles in an absorbing encounter. World No. 14 Beiwen Zhang used her experience against rising star Gayatri Gopichand of the Chennai team to post a 15-10, 15-5 win. The former India Open champion’s aggression and anticipation skills were too good for the 16-year-old in a brilliant show from the American.

The men’s doubles match was an engrossing affair between two pairs, each of which refused to give up. Dhruv Kapila and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy of Chennai edged the Awadhe Trump pair of Ko Sung Hyun and Ivan Sozonov in the initial stages of the match. The undeterred Warriors veterans made a stunning comeback in the next two games as they claimed the 12-15, 15-11, 15-10 win.

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Edited by Prasen Moudgal
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