PV Sindhu ended her campaign at Premier Badminton League 2020 (PBL) on a high with a strong 15-7, 15-8 win against Rituparna Das but her team, Hyderabad Hunters fell to a 1-2 loss to Pune 7 Aces at the GMC Balayogi Sats Indoor Stadium here in Hyderabad today. While Pune has confirmed its berth in the semi-finals, the journey ends for the Hunters as they failed to make it to the knock-out stages.
Having upset World No. 14 Beiwen Zhang in her previous match, World No. 100 Rituparna Das came into this match with a lot of confidence. But the world champion Sindhu posed a very different challenge. The Rio Olympic silver medallist was in no mood to relent as she built a big lead of 8-3, banking on her aggression and speed.
Das struggled to counter the pace at which Sindhu was hitting and conceded the first game 7-15.
The lower-ranked shuttler gave a better account of herself in the second game as she kept Sindhu moving to every part of the court. Her strokeplay helped her remain on par with her highly accomplished opponent till 6-6.
Sindhu did just enough to lift her game from thereon and completed a strong 15-7, 15-8 win to end her PBL5 campaign on a high.
In an engrossing battle between two of India’s best youngsters, PBL debutant Mithun Manjunath of Pune made a 5-3 start against the Hyderabad Trump Priyanshu Rajawat. The latter had stunned World No. 49 Lee Dong Keun in his last match and obviously was prepared for a fightback.
Soon he made his intentions clear as he levelled at 5-5 and remained on the heels of Manjunath before the latter held off the surging Rajawat to take the opener 15-11. An undeterred Priyanshu was not ready to bow out that easily and he fascinated the crowd with his array of shots to level the match.
In an enthralling decider, Mithun raced ahead to 8-2 only to see a resilient Rajawat coming back to make the score 8-8. It was a test of their nerves since then as there was little to separate the two. The match headed to a heartstopping finish with the two remaining on par till 13-13. Manjunath showed nerves of steel under pressure the sneak out the 15-11, 11-15, 15-13 win on a debut that was memorable.
Hyderabad’s best match of the day came in mixed doubles where Sikki Reddy and Vladimir Ivanov upset the Pune Trump of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock, 15-9, 11-15, 15-8. With the two teams locked at 1-1, it was all left to Pune’s World No. 37 Loh Kean Yew to deliver the victory with a 15-14, 15-10 demolition of Hyderabad’s Sourabh Verma.
Earlier, Pune’s Chirag Shetty and Hendra Setiawan bounced back from a loss to secure a commanding 15-12, 15-9 win against Hyderabad’s World No. 32 Ben Lane and Sean Vendy.