World No.1 Viktor Axelsen accelerated the triumph for Bengaluru Blasters by winning the fourth match as the trump, for an unassailable 4-2 lead against Delhi Dashers, in the Vodafone Premier Badminton League at the Siri Fort Sports Complex on Thursday evening.
It was an expected twist to the story after Sung Ji Hyun had resurrected the Delhi team from 0-2 start by winning her singles match as the trump against Kirsty Gilmour.
As it happened
On a day, when the Indian participation was limited to the opening mixed doubles matches, that featured Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy opposite each other, Axelsen was literally the trump card as far as entertainment to the fans was concerned.
The towering Axelsen, who combines deception and volcanic power with such desterity, provided considerable entertainment to the fans, even though he was swift in executing Tian Houwei 15-11, 15-11.
Axelsen got into his groove smoothly, and stepped it up nicely to cruise to the finish, with minimal hiccups, even as Tian Houwei threw himself at everything in his bid to provide a meaningful challenge.
Sung Ji Hyun had resurrected Delhi’s fortunes by overcoming a midmatch slump to outplay Kirsty Gilmour 15-10, 8-15, 15-5.
Kirsty looked to be unnerved at the possibility of beating the trump player and clinching it for Bengaluru which had won the first two matches. Thus, from 3-3 in the decider, Kirsty just froze and produced a string of errors, even as Sung Ji Hyun tightened the noose by winning eight points in a row, killing the match as a contest.
Of course, the Korean’s effort did salvage it for Delhi, which had failed to get its act right in the first two matches, both of which went to the wire.
More than Delhi losing its grip, it was Bengaluru which gave itself a solid foundation before the World No.1 could assert himself, by winning the first two matches. It was a lovely platform on which Bengaluru could control, rather dictate, the flow of the contest.
Having managed to eke out a solitary point from its first match, when it had got the trump wrong, despite winning two singles matches, Delhi visualised a possibility of a strong start through the mixed doubles combination of Ashwini Ponnappa and Vladimir Ivanov.
In the event, the fine combination of ‘’beauty and the beast’’, failed to click, mainly because Ashwini was rusty, playing her first match after marriage, and the towering Ivanov was made to feel that intimidating height and weight were rather a disadvantage against a swift team.
The Korean Kim Sa Rang was a delight to watch and a bundle of energy, while Sikki Reddy cut down on her errors at crucial stages to lend a solid support.
After a revival in the second game, Ashwini and Ivanov kept fighting till they were 10-11 in the decider after which the rivals won four points in a row to give themselves matchpoints and a swift finish.
Perhaps the home crowd was slow in settling into the seats and Ashwini possibly missed the vibrant atmosphere at the start, in the only match of the evening that featured Indian players.
It was once again, judicious play by Chong Wei Feng that helped Bengaluru consolidate its position in the second rubber, after Wing Ki Wong Vincent got Delhi to a strong start, winning the first game.
Chong Wei Feng got into the rhythm from the second game and teased Vincent in the last two games, especially winding up by clinching the last five points in a row, from what looked like headed to a close finish from 10-8 in the decider.
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