PBL: Delhi trump Chennai in close semifinal

Delhi Acers defeated Chennai Smashers 4-3 to enter the final of the Premier Badminton League at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Thursday.

P. V. Sindhu defeated P. C. Thulasi at a canter, but her team, Chennai Smashers, eventually lost the semifinal.   -  K. Murali Kumar

In a closely-fought, exciting contest, Delhi Acers defeated Chennai Smashers 4-3 to enter the final of the Premier Badminton League here at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Thursday.

There were enough ups and downs in the match to enthral one and all and the slotting of both the trump matches as the last two fixtures of the tie only added to the same.

The Smashers, going into the fourth match between P. V. Sindhu and P. C. Thulasi, were trailing by a point after having lost the first two matches and then won the third. But the World No. 12 Indian blew Thulasi off the court, claiming victory for the loss of just 13 points in total and sending Smashers ahead 3-2.

The Acers’ World No. 11 Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto was out last, and staying true to both his rankings and form, he beat Frenchman Brice Leverdez 15-11 and 15-14 to send Delhi through. Leverdez fought hard, particularly in the second set. He stayed with Sugiarto throughout as a 69-shot rally, which Sugiarto eventually won, suggested.

At 12-12 he even had a look-in but planted an easy smash into the net. After that, he would even save two match points before going down.

Earlier, the Acers were off to an impressive start with their doubles pairing of Koo Keat Kien and Tan Boon Heong dismantling Chris Adcock’s and Pranaav Chopra’s game in quick time to win 15-10, 15-14.

In the next match, Chennai fared marginally better. Sony Dwi Kuncoro, a Bronze medallist at the 2004 Athens Olympics, nicked the first game 15-14 against Ajay Jayaram. The latter, though, found his touch in the second, taking it 15-10. Jayaram relentlessly moved the Indonesian back and forth and the 31-year-old in his opponent showed as the third game was surrendered rather meekly 15-7.

But it was in mixed doubles that the Smashers finally got their act together. Chris Adcock and Pia Zebadiah took the first game 15-9 against Gabrielle Adcock – who happens to be Chris’ wife – and Koo Keat Kien. Even as the Smashers’ duo trailed in the initial stages of the second, they managed to pip Delhi 15-14.

The results (semifinal): Delhi Acers bt Chennai Smashers 3-2 (Koo Keat Kien & Tan Boon Heong bt Chris Adcock & Pranaav Chopra 15-10, 15-14; Ajay Jayaram bt Sony Dwi Kuncoro 14-15, 15-10, 15-7; Gabrielle Adcock & Koo Keat Kien lost to Chris Adcock & Pia Zebadiah 15-9, 15-14; P.C. Thulasi lost to P.V. Sindhu (Trump) 15-6, 15-7; Tommy Sugiarto (Trump) bt Brice Leverdez 15-11, 15-14.