Ahmedabad ‘smashes’ its way past Mumbai to seal semis berth

It was a dominating display from Ahmedabad as it went about its business, treating its opponent in disdain. Such was the supremacy from Ahmedabad that it wrapped the first four matches in straight games to win the tie.

An aggressive H.S. Prannoy tore apart World No. 5 Son Wan Ho.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

True to its name, Ahmedabad Smash Masters smashed Mumbai Rockets’ hopes of entering the knockouts as it won 5-0 in the final league match for both the teams at the Premier Badminton League at the Nehru Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.

It was a dominating display from Ahmedabad as it went about its business, treating its opponent in disdain. Such was the supremacy from Ahmedabad that it wrapped the first four matches in straight games to win the tie. Mumbai kept the ‘straight games day’ alive by winning the fifth tie. With the win, Ahmedabad surged to the top of the table with 17 points and clinch a spot in the semifinals, while Mumbai will most likely take the wooden spoon with 10 points.

Ahmedabad Smash Masters vs Mumbai Rockets: As It Happened

In the first match of the day, Gabriela Stoeva and Lee Yong Dae were aimless and clueless against Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Law Cheuk Him as the Ahmedabad pair delighted the sparse crowd with a generous mix of winners and smashes.

Stoeva proved to be the weak link as Him targeted the Mumbai player with repeated smashes and the Bulgarian girl lost the plot in a jiffy, unable to take the barrage of smashes.

Mumbai’s woes compounded when World No. 5 Son Wan Ho proved to be a no match for World No. 10 H.S. Prannoy’s aggression.

Raging like a bull, Prannoy delightfully timed his cross court winners and with Ho committing a plethora of unforced errors, the reigning national champion wrapped up the match in straight sets with an identical 15-12 scoreline.

 

World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying proved to be too good for Beiwen Zhang of Mumbai as the Ahmedabad player made it 3-0 in no time. Tai Tzu was in complete control of the match and wrapped up the first game quickly but just when it looked like it was going according to the script, the Mumbai player came back a tad stronger in the second to level at 6-6.

But Tai Tzu was the World No. 1 for a reason; she showed her opponent how it should be done by collecting five points on the trot as Zing went long multiple times in an attempt to slam in the winners. It was then just a matter of time before Tai Tzu wrapped the match 15-9, 15-12.

Both the teams picked the battle of the brothers for their trump and it almost lived up to the expectations of a humdinger with Sameer Verma and Sourabh Verma engaging in a pulsating slugfest. It was Sameer who looked dominating and Mumbai’s hopes of attempting to crawl back in the tie seemed on track when Sameer took a slender lead at 8-6 in the mid-game interval of the first game.

Ahmedabad Smash Masters' Sourabh Verma in action against brother Sameer Verma in Chennai on Tuesday.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

 

A couple of forehand unforced errors, going long and finding the net, dented Sameer’s chances and the Ahmedabad player pounced on the chance. Sourabh delightfully placed a backhand to draw level at 13-13 but a 50-shot rally kept everyone at the edge of their seats as Sameer’s sublime backhand foxed his brother. Sourabh kept his composure and then took the last two points to win the first game 15-14.

Keen not to let Sameer dominate again, Sourabh took the early lead in the second game and controlled the proceedings with good precision. The Ahmedabad player was extremely good with his net play and cross court placements and Sameer lost momentum and sent shots wide and long repeatedly. It was just fitting that Sourabh finished things off with a forehand smash, which denoted his and his team’s dominance. With a 5 (-1) lead Ahmedabad kept its hopes of a knockout berth alive.

Mumbai restored some pride when its doubles pair of Lee Yong Dae and Tan Boon Heong beat Kidambi Nandagopal and Lee Chun Reginald 15-10, 15-12.

The Ahmedabad pair looked in control at 10-8 in the first game, but big smashes and well executed drop shots by the Mumbai pair kept them in the ascendancy. Mumbai pulled off the first game at 15-10.

Although a tad late, the Mumbai pair grew in confidence and with Nandagopal going wide on multiple occasions Dae and Heong won the second game to restore some pride for Mumbai.

Results

Match 1: Mixed doubles: Lee Yong Dae/Gabriela Stoeva (Mum) lost to Law Cheuk Him/K.R. Juhl (Ahm) 15-11, 15-7

Match 2: Men's singles: S.W. Ho lost to H. S. Prannoy 15-12, 15-12

Match 3: Women's singles: B. Zhang. lost to T.T.Ying 15-9, 15-12

Match 4: Men's singles: Sameer Verma lost to Sourabh Verma (Trump match for both teams) 15-14, 15-11

Match 5: Men's doubles: L.Y. Dae/B.H.Tan beat L.C.H. Reginald/K. Nandagopal  15-10, 15-12