PBL: Chennai, Mumbai qualify for semis

Chennai Smashers (17 points) and Mumbai Rockets (13) joined Delhi Acers (20) and Awadhe Warriors (17) in the semifinals of the Premier Badminton League after the last round of league matches at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday. In Thursday’s first semifinal here, the Acers take on Smashers and on Friday in Hyderabad, the Warriors will meet the Rockets.

P. V. Sindhu, representing Chennai Smashers, defeated Suo Di of Bengaluru Top Guns 15-12, 15-7.   -  AP

Chennai Smashers (17 points) and Mumbai Rockets (13) joined Delhi Acers (20) and Awadhe Warriors (17) in the semifinals of the Premier Badminton League after the last round of league matches at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday. In Thursday’s first semifinal here, the Acers take on Smashers and on Friday in Hyderabad, the Warriors will meet the Rockets.

Coming into their match against the Acers, Rockets needed a solitary point to confirm a last-four berth. But they lost 5-0 and left their fate in the hands of the Chennai and Bengaluru teams, who were to clash in the day’s second game.

Bengaluru Top Guns required a 4-0 win including both trump matches to harbour any hopes of progress. But the moment Sameer Verma lost his opening match against Sony Dwi Kuncoro, which was the latter’s trump, it brought the curtains down for the local outfit and sent both Smashers and Rockets through.

Sindhu beats Suo Di

Later, both in men’s doubles with Hoon Thien How and J.F. Nielse in action, and in the second men’s singles, with World No. 9 K. Srikanth, Top Guns registered easy wins. But these accounted for nothing. On her part, Smashers’ P.V. Sindhu convincingly beat Suo Di of China 15-12, 15-7 to keep intact her spotless record in the league stages.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Mumbai side came within touching distance of an automatic qualification twice: first, when eighteen-year-old Ruthvika Gadde, on whom the trump was placed, almost did the star turn for Rockets. After having lost the first game, she stretched the experienced P.C. Thulasi to the third and came within two points of clinching the match.

Then in the men’s doubles, Ivanov, along with Mathias Boe, battled the Malaysian combine of Koo Keat Kien and Tan Boon Heong. The two won the first game and was up 10-7 in the second. But the experienced Ivanov’s level dropped at crucial moments and Delhi registered a come-from-behind win.

The results: Delhi Acers bt Mumbai Rockets 5-0 (Akshay Dewalkar & Aparna Balan lost to Kamilla Juhl & Vladimir Ivanov 15-13, 15-11; P.C. Thulasi bt Ruthvika Gadde (Trump) 15-11, 8-15, 15-13; Tommy Sugiarto bt H.S. Prannoy 15-8, 15-6; Koo Keat Kien & Tan Boon Heong bt Mathias Boe & Vladimir Ivanov 11-15, 15-12, 15-10; Rajiv Ouseph (Trump) bt Gurusai Dutt 15-7, 15-10)

Bengaluru Top Guns lost to Chennai Smashers 4-1 (Sameer Verma lost to Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Trump) 15-10, 10-15, 15-8; Hoon Thien How & J.F. Nielse bt Chris Adcock Pranaav Chopra 15-7, 15-8; K. Srikanth bt Brice Leverdez 15-4, 15-12; Suo Di lost to P.V. Sindhu 15-12, 15-7; Ashwini Ponnappa & J.F. Nielse los to Chris Adcock & Pia Zebadiah 15-14, 15-12)