PBL Season 5: Sai Praneeth, Tai Tzu Ying not enough for Aces

Kazumasa Sakai gave Pune 7 Aces the lead, defeating Ansal Yadav in the first men’s singles by employing an aggressive brand of badminton.

It was up to the Adcocks to clinch the decider in Match 8 of the Premier Badminton League.

It was up to the Adcocks to clinch the decider in Match 8 of the Premier Badminton League.   -  Twitter

It was a see-saw battle between two potent teams, decided only in the final game of the last tie. Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock defeated Chan Peng Soon and Eom Hye Won to clinch the tie for Pune 7 Aces at the Babu Banarasi Das U.P. Badminton Academy in Lucknow on Monday.

For the rest of the night, there was hardly anything to separate the teams.

Kazumasa Sakai gave Aces the lead, defeating Ansal Yadav in the first men’s singles by employing an aggressive brand of badminton.

Yadav kept Sakai moving about the court with his choice of placement, and in the first game, the two contestants were separated by just a point. But Sakai was undeterred; he kept smashing and closed the contest without much ado.

All eyes were on B. Sai Praneeth, the World No. 11, to level the scores and he did. He had the all-round game to unsettle Loh Kean Yew, but suffered a blip towards the end of the first game. Yew was quick and aggressive, and ran away with his momentum to claim a 1-0 lead in the contest, the winning stroke a fierce smash.

The tables turned in the second game as Sai Praneeth led 8-3 at the break. As he revealed to Sportstar later: “In the first game, we started equally and suddenly, he started playing really fast. He changed his pace suddenly and I made a few mistakes. In the second game, initially I got the lead and then, I actually got to know how to play because I got a strategy.”

As it happened

The strategy was to slow the pace of play, and it worked well. Both players were able to capitalise on the slightest opportunity to smash the shuttle-cock, and Sai Praneeth was excellent with his defence as well, retrieving intrepidly. He had the momentum towards the end of the third game, and walked away with a convincing win.

Raptors’ Trump match was expectedly one-sided. Tai Tzu Ying, the World No. 2, brushed aside Rituparna Das with relative ease, albeit with a brief spell of resistance by the Indian.

Aces’ Trump match was then claimed by the strong men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Hendra Setiawan. The two trailed for a considerable period in the first game, but eventually found their rhythm.

It was left to the Adcocks to decide the winner.

The results

Bengaluru Raptors lost to Pune 7 Aces 4-3 (Ansal Yadav lost to Kazumasa Sakai 14-15, 9-15; B. Sai Praneeth beat Lon Kean Yew 10-15, 15-7, 15-8; Tai Tzu Ying beat Rituparna Das 15-3, 15-9; Arun George and Rian Agung Saputro lost to Chirag Shetty and Hendra Setiawan 14-15, 3-15; Chan Peng Soon and Eom Hye Won lost to Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock 10-15, 15-11, 15-12 ).

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