After 21 scintillating league matches and two interesting semifinals, we have with us the two finalists of Premier Badminton League 2020. Bengaluru Raptors and North Eastern Warriors will be locking horns with each other in what promises to be an epic summit clash.
Defending Champions Bengaluru Raptors did not have the ideal start to their campaign as they lost their first three ties of PBL 2020 on the trot. However, since then Arvind Bhat's troops have orchestrated a stunning turnaround of events and registered wins in all their previous four ties.
The Raptors were up against a strong Pune 7 Aces in their semifinal. Chirag Shetty and Hendra Setiawan helped Pune off to a flying start by winning their trump match. The Indo-Indonesian duo defeated Bengaluru's Arun George and Rian Agung Saputro 15-12, 15-10.
Brice Leverdez got the Raptors right back in by winning his Men's Singles encounter against Mithun Manjunath. The French International won the closely-contested battle against the Indian shuttler 15-14, 9-15, 15-6.
Denting Bengaluru's chances, Kazumasa Sakai upset ace Indian shuttler Sai Praneeth by defeating him 15-11, 15-13 in straight games and helping the 7 Aces to a 3-1 lead.
Tai Tzu Ying came to Bengaluru's rescue yet again and won her trump match against Ritupartna Das in straight games to level things.
The Mixed Doubles match proved to be the deciding battle. Peng Soon Chan and Eom Hye rose to the occasion and defeated Chris and Gabby Adcock 15-13, 15-10 in straight games and thereby secured a 4-3 win for the Bengaluru Raptors in the semifinal.
The North Eastern Warriors, on the other hand, locked horns with Chennai Superstarz in their semifinal encounter. It was a one-sided battle as the Warriors decimated the Chennai-based franchise 3-(-1).
Lee Yong Dae and Kim Ha Na started off well by winning a nerve-wracking encounter against Sumeeth Reddy and Jessica Pugh 15-12, 9-15, 15-14. The inaugural match went down to the wire with the deciding point coming into the picture.
Up next, Hong Kong International Lee Cheuk Yiu faced the Indonesian ace Tommy Sugiarto. Yiu displayed many scintillating strokes en route to his 15-12, 15-12 win over Sugiarto and thereby doubled the lead for the North Eastern Warriors.
Bodin Isara and Krishna Prasad Garaga defeated Sumeeth Reddy and Dhruv Kapila 15-13, 14-15, 15-10 in a well-fought Men's Doubles encounter. This was Chennai Superstarz' trump match which meant that North Eastern Warriors now gained an unassailable 3-(-1) lead. The remaining two matches did not need to be contested.
The summit clash between Bengaluru Raptors and North Eastern Warriors promises to go down to the wire. Both sides have won their previous four ties and surely deserve to be in the final.
What happened when the two sides met during the league stage?
Bengaluru Raptors and North Eastern Warriors last met - long back - in Tie 2 during the league stage. The Warriors forced a 4-3 win in what was a high-octane battle between the two sides.
Peng Soon Chan/Eom Hye Won defeated Lee Yong Dae/Kim Ha Na 15-8, 15-11 in the Mixed Doubles encounter and helped Bengaluru draw first blood in the tie.
Lee Cheuk Yiu upset Sai Praneeth to help the Warriors level things at 1-1. Tai Tzu Ying then put Bengaluru in a commanding position by thrashing Ashmita Chaliha 15-7, 15-5. The ace Chinese Taipei shuttler was playing the trump match for the Raptors which meant that they got into a 3-1 lead.
Lee Yong Dae and Bodin Isara stepped up next to play the trump match for North Eastern Warriors. They defeated Arun George and Rian Agung Saputro 15-12, 15-6 in straight games. The comfortable victory meant that the tie would be decided by the last Men's Singles encounter, which was played between Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and Brice Leverdez.
Thailand's Tanongsak was in sublime form and raced to 15-7, 15-8 win over the French International and sealed the tie 4-3 in favour of North Eastern Warriors.
Making any predictions for the summit clash will be a tough task as we can never know how a player performs during the pressure of the final, during which mental strength plays an equally important role as the ability of the player.
Tai Tzu Ying will be the favourite to win the Women's Singles encounter. The Chinese Taipei shuttler has been Bengaluru Raptors' backbone and is still undefeated in her entire campaign. She will be looking to end PBL 2020 on a high.
The current World Number 2 will, however, likely be up against Canadian ace Michelle Li, who has been nothing short of outstanding herself and defeated the likes of PV Sindhu in her PBL 2020 campaign.
This Women's Singles battle is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The two have met 9 times in the BWF circuit and Michelle Li has managed to win to of those encounters. The World Number 10 also defeated Tai Tzu Ying in a cracking match during the Japan Open in July last year which means she is more than capable of causing an upset.
The Mixed Doubles match between Lee Yong Dae/Kim Ha Na and Peng Soon Chan/Eom Hye Won promises to be an interesting one.
The probable Men's Singles battle between Sai Praneeth (World Number 11) and Lee Cheuk Yiu (World Number 18) is expected to go down to the wire as well.
Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (World Number 38) is likely to go up against Brice Leverdez (World Number 39). The two ace shuttlers are ranked ever so closely in the International circuit. The 29-year-old southpaw from Thailand, Tanongsak does, however, have a good 3-1 head-to-head record against the French International. He even got the better of Brice during their league stage match.
Here is all the information you need to know about day 21, Final and the PBL 2020 Schedule:
Tie: Bengaluru Raptors vs North Eastern Warriors
Tournament: Premier Badminton League Season 5
Venue: G. M. C. Balayogi SATS Indoor Stadium, Hyderabad
Date: 9th February 2020
Time: 7:00 PM IST onwards
Head-to-head: Bengaluru Raptors 1 - 2 North Eastern Warriors
Where to watch the matches in India?
Bengaluru Raptors vs North Eastern Warriors will be telecast LIVE on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD.
PBL Day 21 live stream details
Live Stream for PBL Day 21 will be available on Hotstar.com
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