Home team Delhi Acers took on the Hyderabad Hunters at Delhi’s Siri Fort at the 2016 edition of the Premier Badminton League, and as it turned out, their home advantage would be telling. Despite being pushed hard in several of the matches, they came through unscathed by a scoreline that was a little flattering to them.
Here’s how the games progressed:
Women’s singles: Supanida Katethong (Hyderabad Hunters) vs PC Thulasi (Delhi Acers)
Indian pro PC Thulasi has more experience than 18-year-old Supanida, and had taken a straight games victory at the only occasion the pair had met prior to this match. Supanida came into today's match on the back of a loss to Suo Di – but so did Thulasi, who lost both her previous ties.
The experienced Thulasi won the first set against Supanida 15-12 as the Thai gave her quite the battle. Supanida then continued her momentum into the second game, with Thulasi choking as she lost the second game 9-15.
The Acers’ Indian shuttler attempted to salvage matters in the final game and scraped back against Supanida, managing a close loss in the end as Supanida won the final game 15-13 and took the first match for the Hyderabad Hutners.
Men’s Singles: Rajiv Ouseph (Delhi Acers) vs Parupalli Kashyap (Hyderabad Hunters)
British Olympic badminton player Ouseph, who is his the top-ranked singles player in the United Kingdom, today took on Indian shuttler Parupalli Kashyap in the pair’s tie. The memory will not have been pleasant for Kashyap, who last played Ouseph at the 2015 French Open, and battling injury, lost to the British Olympic shuttler.
Ouseph dominated the first game entirely, winning it 15-9.
Kashyap appeared to be making a concerted effort to come back in the second game as he inched towards Ouseph, against whom he had a 5-4 head-to-head record.
Unfortunately for the Indian, his efforts were in vain as Ouseph took the second game 15-10 and won the men’s singles for the Delhi Acers, taking the pair’s head-to-head even at 5 all.
Mixed Doubles: Akshay Dewalkar/Gabrielle Adcock (Delhi Acers) vs Markis Kido/Jwala Gutta (Hyderabad Hunters)
The pair of Dewalkar and Adcock won their first tie for the Delhi Acers, and the pair have an on-court chemistry that translates well into their results.
Kido and Gutta, meanwhile, had yet to open their account at the Premier Badminton League – giving Delhi Acers the clear advantage in this match.
The Hunters managed to pull out some unequivocally strong play, taking the first game with a convincing 15-7 victory, following that up with 15-8 in the second game to take the Mixed Doubles tie in straight games, in favour of the Hunters.
Men's Singles: Tommy Sugiarto (Delhi Acers) vs Lee Chong Wei (Hyderabad Hunters) [Trump match for Hyderabad Hunters]
The pair have met 13 times prior, with the legendary Lee taking 11 of those victories – a statistic that would not have held Sugiarto in good stead going into the match.
This tie was an obvious pick for the Hunters’ trump match of the night.
Lee was expected to take a straight games victory, and from his 15-9 win in the first game, it certainly seemed to be on track for that result. The less-experienced Sugiarto came back all guns in blazing in the second game, though, and quickly took a lead on Lee, leading him 6-1 at one point and eventually taking the second game 15-10.
Now down to the deciding game, Lee still looked to be in with a fighting chance as he led Sugiarto 4-2. Not to be cowed down, however, the Delhi Acers shuttler fought back to wrest a 12-7 lead over his rival.
At this point, the trump match ramped up in intensity. At match point, with the scores 14-13 in favour of Sugiarto, Lee managed to land an ace to equalise at 14-all, for a second match point.
Sugiarto eventually managed to score the point, upsetting Lee Chong Wei 9-15, 15-10, 15-14 in a decider that was contested extremely closely.
Delhi Acers led the Hyderabad Hunters 2-1 at this point, and with their own trump match coming up, were fully in the driver’s seat.
Men’s doubles:Tan Boong Heong/Koon Kien Keat (Delhi Acers) vs K Nandagopal/R. Satwik Sai Raj (Hyderabad Hunters) [Trump match for Delhi Acers]
The Delhi Acers pair had lost their past two doubles ties and did not have the momentum they needed going into today's tie. The Hunters played teen R. Satwik Sai Raj, an U-19 badminton champion, and K Nandagopal, who is the older brother of India’s ace shuttler Kidambi Srikanth.
The Hunters’ pair lost the first game, but came back in the second, winning 15-14 to test their opponents. Showing their talent, the Hunters’ Nandagopal managed the fastest smash of the match as well.
The final game was also a close one, one that the Hunters’ pair would eventually lose 15-11, finishing the tie overall in favour of the Delhi Acers, for whom this set was a trump match.
The Hyderabad Hunters more than proved their mettle in the final match however, with the scores reading 15-12, 14-15, 15-13 in what was the most evenly contested of the evening’s matches.
Final result: Delhi Acers beat Hyderabad Hunters 4-1Published 07 Jan 2016, 22:12 IST