PBL: Semi-final line ups decided after Raptors beat former champions

Sai Praneeth and unbeaten Srikanth help Raptors win last league match

A day before facing the table toppers Awadhe Warriors in the semi-finals, the Bengaluru Raptors got a huge boost of confidence by beating former champions Chennai Smashers in front of their home crowd at the Vodafone Premier Badminton League Season 4 at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, here on Thursday. Bengaluru skipper Kidambi Srikanth recorded his sixth win in as many matches and Sai Praneeth contributed as well to help Bengaluru dethrone the Mumbai Rockets from the third spot as the league stage came to an end.

While the Raptors were drawn to face the Awadhe Warriors on the first day of the semi-finals, defending champions Hyderabad Hunters will take on two-time runners-up Mumbai Rockets in the second semi-final on Saturday.

With the in-form Son Wan Ho in their line-up, the Warriors will pose some serious threat for last season’s runners-up Bengaluru. PV Sindhu, meanwhile, will try her best to inspire the Hunters when they meet the Lee Yong Dae and Sameer Verma-led Rockets.

In the final league match of the season, Bengaluru’s Trump Srikanth was highly impressive once again. Looking lethal as ever, the former World No. 1 hardly broke a sweat in his 15-10, 15-10 win over Chennai’s Chong Wei Feng. Srikanth relentlessly attacked the forehand wing of the southpaw with his sharp down-the-line smashes, building an 8-5 lead and extending it further to take the first game.

A couple of errors in the second game did allow the Chennai shuttler to draw level at 7-7 but Srikanth’s smashes soon made a difference and helped him get his sixth win on the trot.

Having beaten Sameer Verma in the previous match to end his winning streak, Sai Praneeth came out all guns blazing against Chennai’s Trump Parupalli Kashyap to record a 15-11, 15-12 victory. The difference in the confidence level of the two was evident as Sai raced ahead to 8-3 first and then staved off a late surge from Kashyap to get the first game.

A determined Kashyap kept the scores level until 5-5 in the second game before Sai seized control of the proceedings to seal the win.

With five wins in as many matches, former World No. 2 Sung Ji Hyun of the Smashers was the overwhelming favourite over Bengaluru’s 59th ranked Vu Thi Trang. And she did not disappoint, notching up a 15-10, 14-15, 15-10 win.

Trang was able to prevent her opponent from running away to a big lead until half-time in the first game. The complexion of the match changed soon after as the Korean upped the intensity of her game to grab the opener.

Vu made a turnaround by jumping out to 10-6 in the next game. However, mounting errors and tiredness pushed Sung up to 14-13, but Vu still dug deep to set up a decider. Order was restored in the third game as the World No. 11 got into the groove to complete the victory.

Earlier, the tie started off with a surprise as Chennai’s men’s doubles pair of Chris Adcock and Or Chin Chung upset Bengaluru’s World No. 9 pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 14-15, 15-9, 15-11.

The former world champions had lost only one match coming into this showdown and began with a lot of positivity, taking the opening game on a golden point. However, Chung managed to mix up his play after that and that that took the match away from the Indonesians.

SEMI FINAL LINE UP
Semi 1 (Jan 11)- Awadhe Warriors vs Bengaluru Raptors

Semi 2: (Jan 12)-Hyderabad Hunters vs Mumbai Rockets

POINTS TABLES

SR.No Team Ties Matches Win Matches Loss Points
1. Awadhe Warriors 6 13 11 25
2. Hyderabad Hunters 6 15 9 24
3. Bengaluru Raptors 6 14 11 21
4. Mumbai Rockets 6 13 11 19
5. Pune 7 Aces 6 8 16 17
6. Chennai Smashers 6 11 11 15
7. Ahmedabad Smash Masters 6 7 17 13
8. North Eastern Westerns 6 11 13 11
9 Delhi Dashers 6 9 15 6