World Championships bronze medallist B. Sai Praneeth of defending champion Bengaluru Raptors came up with a vintage performance, under pressure, to outsmart Parupalli Kashyap, while World No. 39 Brice Leverdez outslugged Shreyash Jaiswal to help their team score a convincing 5-0 win over Mumbai Rockets in the Premier Badminton League at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad, on Tuesday.
With Sai winning the Trump match for his team and Leverdez wresting Mumbai’s Trump match, Bengaluru now has 17 points to keep its semifinal hopes alive while Mumbai got stuck at 10 points.
In the first mixed doubles match, Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang of Mumbai were off to a winning start with a hard-fought 13-15, 15-8, 15-10 win over Arun George and Rian Agung Saputro.
Then, the World No.2 Tai Tzu Ying of Bengaluru made short work of 21-year-old Shreyanshi Pardeshi with a near-flawless performance after a hesitant start.
It was a match which went on expected lines once Tai Tzu changed gears after taking a comfortable lead.
The focus then shifted to a clash between two of the best men’s singles players from India – World No. 25 Kashyap of Mumbai and World No. 11 Sai, playing the Trump match for Bengaluru.
It was a see-saw battle in the first game, which saw a dominant Kashyap pushing Sai around with clever placements.
At 14-10, Kashyap looked to wrap up the match, but Sai was unwilling to give up and came up with his vintage game, engaging the opponent in long rallies and winning the points too. That he won five points in a row to win the game, was a tribute to his brilliant all-round performance under pressure.
In the second game, Sai went 8-4 up, with Kashyap clearly struggling to get things right.
Just when it seemed Sai was in the mood to wrap it up at 13-11, Kashyap turned the tables with a couple of brilliant smashes to clinch the game and take it into the decider.
The third game was anybody’s for the taking and neither Sai nor Kashyap managed to put up a comfortable lead, throughout. The emphasis was more on net dribbles. It was a thrilling contest with former World No. 1 K. Srikanth cheering Sai and the London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal cheering her husband, Kashyap.
With scores tied 14-all, after a series of unforced errors by both in crunch time, Kashyap faltered with his cross-court drop to end up on the losing side of what was arguably one of the best matches ever seen here.
Later, in Mumbai's Trump tie, Shreyash Jaiswal lost to World No. 39 Brice Leverdez to give Bengaluru an unbeaten 4-0 lead before the last mixed doubles match.
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