PBL: Chennai trumps Bengaluru

Denmark’s rising singles talent Viktor Axelsen took down Tommy Sugiarto in style for Bengaluru’s first point, whose decision to name the concluding men’s doubles tie as the Trump match featuring Koreans Yeon Seong Ho/Sung Hyun Ho backfired.

Chennai Smashers' PV Sindhu in action.   -  PTI

Chennai Smashers, spurred by controlled performances from singles aces Parupalli Kashyap, PV Sindhu, and the classy doubles pair Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock, took a 4-0 lead early, after which it cruised to a victory in the Vodafone Premier Badminton League 2017. The remaining two games did not matter as Bengaluru Blasters were too far from catching up with the rivals who were donning their blazing yellow jerseys. The match ended 5-0, with Smashers securing both the Trump ties.

Denmark’s rising singles talent Viktor Axelsen took down Tommy Sugiarto in style for Bengaluru’s first point, whose decision to name the concluding men’s doubles tie as the Trump match featuring Koreans Yeon Seong Ho/Sung Hyun Ho backfired. Chris Adcock could do nothing wrong on Tuesday night at the NSCI, playing his part in the men’s doubles in the

PV Sindhu, stepping on court after the men’s singles, proved to be the ace in Chennai Smashers’ pack, winning the Trump match against Hong Kong’s gritty CheongNgan Yi 12-10, 11-6. The Indian overcome self-doubt and the breakneck 11-point format to secure her first victory in the third edition.

The Rio silver medallist struck form at the right time and will be a treat to watch in the contests ahead. Sindhu faced starting trouble as the Korean surged to a five-point lead and up 6-3 at the break before the Indian clawed back, cheered by the fans for winning each point. She caught Cheung off-balance with a flat crosscourt smash to the backcourt and won the next point for 9-all, caught up again at 10-all before winning the big points thereafter.

Cheung challenged the first point successfully, but ended up playing catch-up thereafter. Sindhu’s growing confidence was evident at 5-4 up, ending the rally with a ferocious smash and kept the Korean guessing with a mix of angular returns deep and wristy smashes towards match-point, leaving the crowd cheering for more.

The Indian admitted that adapting to the 11-point format takes time. “Cheung was leading 5-3 and it took me time to get a grip. The 11-point system is tricky, every point counts and I need time to adjust,” explained Sindhu post-match, relieved to have win points on her terms after the early anxiety.

Parupalli Kashyap snuffed out Saurabh Verma’s ambitions with a clinical show in the first singles, winning 11-8, 11-5. The London Olympics quarter-finalist remained in control right throughout, quelling a flicker of resistance in the second game to win and get Chennai off to a smooth start.

The thrill and finesse in doubles play came through in the mixed doubles, reflected in Chris Adcock’s control and placements, partner Gabrielle’s court coverage, while across the net prowling Ashwini Ponappa struck up an understanding with the versatile Yeon Seong yoo unfluring the tricky shots up his sleeve as the match unfloded, floating around the court effortlessly and celebrating each point with his feisty partner.

The Adcocks won the first game, slipped in the second before roaring back in the action-packed third game. Chris and Gabrielle appeared to crack at times, but the former held the team together using his control towards the closing stage, dawing level at 11 and 14, enroute to victory. Chris Adcock returned to the court for the second time, winning again in the company of Mads Kolding in the men’s doubles. Bengaluru margin of defeat widened from 1-4 down to 0-5 wipeout.

Scores -- Chennai Smashers 5 bt Bengaluru Blasters 0 (Parupalli Kashyap bt Saurabh Verma 11-8, 11-5, (T) P V Sindhu bt Cheong Ngan Yi 12-10, 11-6, Chris Adcock & Gabrielle Adcock bt Ashwini Ponappa & Yeong Seong Yoo 11-6, 8-11, 15-14, Tommy Sugiarto lost to Viktor Axelsen 11-7, 13-11, Chris Adcock & Mads Peter Kolding bt Sung (T) Hyun Ko & Yeong Song Yo 11-7, 7-11, 13-11).