Lakshya Sen, Tommy Sugiarto and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy played a pivotal role to guide the Chennai Superstarz to their third consecutive win as the hosts clashed with Bengaluru Raptors at the Star Sports Premier Badminton League 2020 held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here today.
With the two teams locked at 3-3, it was all down to the men’s doubles match, where Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Dhruv Kapila took the court for the home team while Chan Peng Soon and Rian Agung Saputro appeared for the Raptors. The visitors managed to edge Rankireddy and Kapila with a fine mix of offense and defense. Buoyed by the support shown by the crowd, the Chennai duo was able to rebound riding on Satwik’s fiery smashes to record a 13-15, 15-9, 15-9 victory.
The 2018 Junior Asian Championships gold medallist Sen, who made a fantastic transition to the senior circuit by winning five titles last year, brought all his confidence against Bengaluru’s Brice Leverdez. Oozing maturity with every shot, the 18-year-old displayed exceptional temperament and anticipation skills to blow away the 38th ranked Frenchman, 15-5, 15-4. This was the fewest games Lakshya lost so far in three matches in the fifth edition of PBL.
Sai Praneeth and Sugiarto played twice last year on the BWF World Tour with both matches ending in favour of the Indian. When the match PBL began, it was, however, Sugiarto who made the better start of the two. The Chennai ace managed to dig deep and grind out a tightly-contested first game 15-13.
With chants of “Let’s go Sai, Let’s go Sai” reverberating in the stadium, the 2019 World Championships bronze medallist soared to a 10-7 lead in the second game and wrapped it up 15-10. The comeback helped the Raptors ace to free up and he continued the momentum to lead 3-0 in the decider.
With the two tied at 5-5 in the third game, the Indonesian started getting better and better. Sugiarto’s stubborn defense and refusal to break down wore out Sai, who conceded the match 13-15, 15-10, 11-15.
In a wonderful clash of youth vs experience, Gayatri Gopichand played beyond her years to snatch a game off the World No. 2 Tai Tzu Ying. Gayatri held her nerves and showed fantastic composure to edge the Chinese Taipei ace 15-13 in the opening game of women’s singles. She, however, could not continue the momentum as the former World No. 1 came storming back to complete a 13-15, 15-6, 15-6 win.
Earlier in the day, Olympic silver medallist Chan Peng Soon and two-time World Championships medallist Eom Hye Won combined for a brilliant opening to the tie for the defending champions. They absolutely did not allow the Chennai pair of Dhruv Kapila and Jessica Pugh to settle into the match at all and raced away to a 15-7, 15-8 Trump win.