PBL: Rajiv scalps Srikanth as Delhi routs Bengaluru

Without a victory in the first two outings of the Premier Badminton League, Delhi Acers stunned Hyderabad Hunters on Thursday, and proved that it was no fluke by stringing together a victory-sequence over the first three matches on Friday against Bengaluru Topguns.

Rajiv Ouseph defeated K. Srikanth 4-15, 15-11, 15-9.   -  R. V. Moorthy

For the second straight day, Delhi Acers produced an upset in one match and decisively changed the course of the tie.

Without a victory in the first two outings of the Premier Badminton League, Delhi Acers stunned Hyderabad Hunters on Thursday, and proved that it was no fluke by stringing together a victory-sequence over the first three matches on Friday against Bengaluru Topguns.

Bengaluru did manage to win the women’s singles as expected to gain two points off its trump match. But Delhi, already assured of victory, rubbed it in by winning the mixed doubles match.

This helped Delhi end its two-day home leg with back-to-back triumphs to zoom to the top of the six-team league table.

If Tommy Sugiarto’s upset of Lee Chong Wie was the turning point of Delhi’s triumph over Hyderabad, Rajiv Ouseph’s surprise defeat of K. Srikanth ended the tie as a contest on Friday.

The rest of the matches followed a predictable course.

In the opener, Delhi took the lead through Ajay Jayaram’s conquest of Sameer Verma. In the men’s doubles that followed, Kien Keat Koo and Boon Heong Tan did not have to work too hard to win their trump match against Thein How Hoon and Khim Wah Lim in straight games.

Similarly, Bengaluru proved stronger in the women’s singles where Chinese talent Suo Di raced past Shikha Gautam for the loss of just 11 points.

It was obvious that in the third match, Bengaluru depended on its star-purchase Srikanth. But the country’s top player flattered to deceive after closing the opening game at 15-4.

Srikanth had upset Lee Chong Wie in the opener and then scalped H.S. Prannoy but lost in straight games to S. Tanongsak in the previous match. With this being the background, Srikanth was expected to come hard at Rajiv against whom he holds an unbeaten record.

On the other hand, Rajiv was on a high following Thursday’s victory over P. Kashyap. Though Rajiv struggled in the opening game, he fought back gallantly in the next two games, kept Srikanth away from the net and produced some accurate play from the back of the court to repeatedly catch the latter on the wrong foot. Much before the last point was played and won, Srikanth appeared out of steam.

The results (‘T’ denotes trump match): Delhi Acers beat Bengaluru Topguns 5-2 (Ajay Jayaram bt Sameer Verma 15-11, 15-12; T: Kien Keat Koo & Boon Heong Tan bt Thein How Hoon & Khim Wah Lim 15-9, 15-10; Rajiv Ouseph bt S. Kidambi 4-15, 15-11, 15-9; Shikha Gautam lost to T: Suo Di 5-15, 6-15; Gabrielle Adcock & Kien Keat Koo bt Ashwini Ponnappa & Khim Wah Lim 15-14, 9-15, 15-12).