Bengaluru Raptors entered the semifinals of the Premier Badminton league with a 5-0 win over Awadhe Warriors. The defending champion rode on the the brilliance of Brice Leverdez and captain B. Sai Praneeth to blank Awadhe Warriors at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on Thursday.
Warriors got off to a perfect start as the pair of Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol scored an impressive win over Arun George and Rian Agung Saputro in the men's doubles.
Then, world No. 39 Brice Leverdez of the Raptors bagged a decisive win against world No. 64 Ajay Jayaram, with the latter playing the Trump match for his team.
Leverdez overcame a hesitant start, when he was also rattled by the deception of Jayaram at the net, to score six points in-a-row to wrap up the first game.
In the second , Leverdez was even more aggressive to take a comfortable 8-2 lead, only to see Jayaram come back with a superior net game. But, changing gears, the Raptors shuttler sent down telling smashes to win five points in-a-row and finish off the match in style.
Then, world No. 2 Tai Tzu Ying's show was on for the Raptors as she outslugged a defiant world No. 14 Beiwen Zhang in the women’s singles, including warding off a spirited comeback midway in the second game by the latter.
Tai Tzu swung the contest in her favour every time her opponent was gaining ground with impeccable drops and gave the Raptors a 2-0 lead.
Then, in the Trump match for his team, the Raptors captain and world No. 11 B. Sai Praneeth, negotiated a spirited challenge from world No. 41 Wong Wing Ki Vincent to give his team an unbeatable 4-0 lead.
Sai’s ability to get his smashes right every time the opponent threatened to come back strongly was the decisive factor.
Raptors joined North Eastern Warriors, Chennai Superstarz and Pune 7 Aces in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, an official of Chennai Superstarz informed the media that doubles specialist R. Satwik Sairaj is a doubtful starter for the semifinal because of an ankle injury he sustained in the last league match.
The semifinal line-up is as follows: North-Eastern Warriors vs Chennai Superstarz (Friday); Pune 7 Aces vs Bengaluru Raptors (Saturday).
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