Pune 7 Aces scored a hard-fought 2-1 win over Hyderabad Hunters to take its point tally to 20 and qualify for the semifinal of the Premier Badminton League at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on Wednesday.
Crowd favourites Hunters finished the league with 11 points and fell out of contention for the knock-out phase.
In the first men’s doubles match, Chirag Shetty and the former world champion Hendra Setiawan of Pune combined superbly to outplay Ben Lane and Sean Vendy to ensure a perfect start for the team.
The 18-year-old Priyanshu, ranked World No. 284 playing the Trump match for Hunters, lost to the relatively more experienced Mithun Manjunath in a thriller.
In the first game, Manjunath showed better court coverage and also came up with some telling smashes. Then, a more aggressive Priyanshu won the second game, predominantly scoring with his down the line smashes.
In the decider, Manjunath raced away to an 8-2 lead before Priyanshu scored six points in a row, mostly getting the better of the opponent at the net.
With scores tied at 13-all, Priyanshu returned deep and out and soon saw Mithun unleash two powerful cross-court returns which brooked no return to clinch the game and the match.
“The shuttle was very fast and I was playing my first match in the PBL and so it is a very satisfying win in a very tough match,” said a delighted Mithun later on.
Later, World champion P.V. Sindhu ensured Hunters got the first win when she expectedly outclassed the young and inexperienced Rituparna Das.
In the mixed doubles, which was a Trump match for Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock of Pune, the left-right combination of Vladimir Ivanov and N. Sikki Reddy of Hunters won the battle of big smashes and smart net play to see the team score tied one-all before the last men’s singles match.
World No. 37 Loh Kean Yew of Pune won against World No. 28 Sourabh Verma in the last match to clinch the issue in his team favour.
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