World Championships bronze medallist Sai Praneeth beat Parupalli Kashyap in a nerve-wracking contest to take Bengaluru Raptors to a 5-0 victory over Mumbai Rockets and help the defending champions remain in contention for the semi-finals at the Star Sports Premier Badminton League held at the GMC Balayogi SATS Indoor Stadium here in Hyderabad today. With the result, the Raptors have now climbed to the fourth position in the league standings with just one match to go.
In an absolute spectacle of a badminton match that saw two of India’s best men’s singles shuttlers locking horns, the Raptors Trump Sai edged the 2014 Commonwealth Games champion 15-14, 14-15, 15-14.
Kashyap came out firing right from the first point. Raining his smashes down relentlessly, the World No. 25 had Sai on the ropes initially as he surged to a big 8-2 lead. It was only after the break in the first game that the World Championships bronze medallist was able to find his aggression as he closed the gap to 9-11 in a remarkable turnaround.
Sai used body smashes to tie the score at 14-14 before the game point was decided on a challenge and it went in favour of the Bengaluru player.
High on confidence after making such a strong comeback in the first game, Sai kept his momentum going to race away to 4-1 in the second game before soaring to 8-5. Kashyap smartly mixed it up after that to put the World No. 11 Sai out of his comfort zone. His efforts were soon rewarded as the two were level on 10-10 and then 13-13. Sai found his down-the-line smash to save a game point but soon saw Kashyap summoning his own attacking game to take the match to a decider.
The match reached its climax in the decider with both showing exceptional defence. With both refusing to break down, the highly exciting match reached a 7-7 tie. In a heartstopping finish to the match that had the crowd on the edge, the two remained on level terms till 14-14 in one of the most dramatic matches this season. An exhausted Sai pushed the shuttle to the backcourt on match point to seal the mind-blowing match.
In a clash of youth and experience in women’s singles, Mumbai’s Shriyanshi Pardeshi began well against World No. 2 Tai Tzu Ying to have a slender lead of 4-3 before the Raptors ace stormed back to inch ahead to 8-6. Having wrested the momentum, Tai did not waste any time to pocket the opener at 15-8.
Tai opened up a 4-0 lead in the second game and raced away to an 8-3 lead. Pardeshi, however, showed excellent retrieving skills to engage Tai in a 28-shot rally and get to within two points of the former World No. 1 at 7-9.
A couple of errors from Tai allowed her young opponent to remain on her heels at 11-12. But the Chinese Taipei ace was soon able to regroup and steer her way to a 15-8, 15-12 win to remain unbeaten this season.
Bengaluru’s Brice Leverdez rebounded from losing the middle game to complete a 15-12, 10-15, 15-10 win against the Mumbai Trump Shreyansh Jaiswal, who was playing in PBL5 for the first time. Despite the loss, Jaiswal’s performance under pressure speaks volumes of his courage and resilience.
Bengaluru also secured the mixed doubles win when Chan Peng Soon and Eom Hye Won beat Mumbai’s Pia Zebadiah and Kim Gi Jung 15-8, 15-12.
Earlier, the Mumbai Rockets began the tie with a fantastic performance in men’s doubles. Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang combined to take a gritty 13-15, 15-8, 15-10 win against Bengaluru’s Arun George and Rian Agung Saputro.