PBL 2018-19: Kirsty Gilmour helps Ahmedabad Smash Masters beat Bengaluru Raptors

Kirsty Gilmour beats Vu Thi Thrang 15-8, 15-13 to help Ahmedabad Smash Masters clinch a 4-3 win.

Red-hot form: Kirsty Gilmour (in picture) defeated Vu Thi Thrang 15-8, 15-13.   -  G. Ramakrishna

Kirsty Gilmour of Ahmedabad Smash Masters produced the kind of form her team-mates were looking for in the decisive final game in her team’s Premier Badminton League contest against Bengaluru Raptors at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium on Thursday. Gilmour outclassed Vu Thi Thrang 15-8, 15-13 to help her team clinch a 4-3 win.

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It was a near-flawless performance from Gilmour, the World No. 28, against her Vietnamese opponent, a former Youth Olympics bronze medallist. Showing no signs of nerves, Gilmour was too good for her opponent with her precise smashes and deft returns at the net.

Winning start

In the first match, the formidable mixed doubles combine of R. Satwiksairaj and N. Sikki Reddy ensured a winning start for Ahmedabad. It was a hard-fought win; they defeated Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith in what was the trump match for their team.

Then, Sourabh Verma of Ahmedabad, filling in for the former world champion Viktor Axelsen, rose to the occasion with an impressive win over the higher-ranked B. Sai Praneeth in the men’s singles.

Sourabh Verma (in picture) defeated B. Sai Praneeth in three games. Photo: G. Ramakrishna

 

With the contest going into the third game, Sourabh staged a wonderful fight back. Down 4-9, she picked five points in a row and then hung on gamely in the tense final moments. To his delight, Sai made quite a few costly unforced errors when it mattered most.

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Srikanth dispatches Liew

Then, former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth of Bengaluru kept the team in the hunt with a brilliant display against Daren Liew. Winning the first game easily, Srikanth was surprised by the opponent in the second; the latter played a more aggressive game.

But in the decider, Srikanth was in a hurry, wrapping up a 11-0 lead before Liew could realise what was happening. Only when World No. 8 Srikanth made some unforced errors did Liew showed glimpses of his ability. Srikanth finished off the game in style with his trademark half-smash which left the opponent in awe. Talking about his contest, Srikanth later said, “The drift factor made it difficult to control the shuttle in the second game for me. But, overall, I am happy with the team picking three points in the first match of this season.”

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The men’s doubles team of Ahsan Mohammad and Hendra Setiawan of Bengaluru ensured that the team scores were tied three-all, winning the trump match. They defeated K. Nandagopal and Chun Hei Reginald Lee in straight games.

The results
  • Ahmedabad Smash Masters bt Bengaluru Raptors 4-3
  • R. Satwiksairaj & N. Sikki Reddy (T) bt Marcus Ellis & Lauren Smith 13-15, 15-11, 15-14;
  • Sourabh Verma bt B. Sai Praneeth 15-11, 11-15, 15-14;
  • Daren Liew lost to Kidambi Srikanth 9-15, 15-6, 11-15;
  • K. Nandagopal & Chun Hei Reginald Lee lost to Ahsan Mohammad & Hendra Setiawan (T) 13-15, 9-15;
  • Kirsty Gilmour bt Vu Th Thrang 15-8, 15-13.