PBL: North Eastern Warriors beats Chennai Superstarz 4-3

Both teams, North Eastern Warriors and Chennai Superstarz, tested their bench strengths by giving chances to younger players in an inconsequential match.

The doubles pairing of Kim Ha Na (left) and Lee Yong Dae wrapped up the tie for North Eastern Warriors by winning their mixed doubles match.   -  PBL

In an inconsequential match, with both the teams having already qualified for the semifinals, the North Eastern Warriors scored a 4-3 win over Chennai Superstarz in the Premier Badminton League at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on Tuesday. 

It was time for experimentation for the table-topper Chennai as the team gave chances to some relatively new faces.

In the first men’s singles match, the more experienced 23-year-old Kaushal Dharmamer of Warriors got the better of K. Sathish Kumar.

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Kaushal, trained by former national doubles champion Uday Pawar, scored an easy first-game win but in the second game was surprised by the tenacity of the 18-year-old younger opponent. 

To his credit, the Coimbatore boy came up with some neat cross-court drops to pick a few points but it was only a matter of time before Kaushal wrapped up the issue with a couple of big smashes and deft net dribbles. 

Then, in the men’s doubles match, B. Sumeeth Reddy combined with Dhruv Kapila for Chennai to down the Warriors duo of Bodin Isara and G. Krishna Prasad, after the latter put up a terrific fight in the second game. 

It looked as if the experience and power game of Isara would see Warriors take the match into the decider when a series of smashes from him saw the team save three match-points to level the scores at 14-all but when it mattered most, the Warriors duo faltered.

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Chennai took a comfortable 3-1 lead when World No. 30 Kirsty Gilmour won the Trump match against the World No. 81 Ashmita Chaliha, who had won the South Asian Games gold last year, but not before Ashmita gave glimpses of her talent. 

The 20-year-old Ashmita was actually leading 8-3 in the first game, before letting Kirsty come back strongly with her trademark smashes and cross-court drops.

In the second game too, after trailing 4-8, Ashmita won three straight points to level the score, before Kirsty once again brought in her experience to get the better of the younger opponent, who did show her ability to come up with some stunning smashes and backhanders. 

Youngest PBL player 

For the 16-year-old S. Sankar Muthuswamy of Chennai, the youngest ever to play in the PBL, it was a very satisfying outing against World No. 18 Lee Cheuk Yiu.

By all means, it was not a surrender by the southpaw Sankar and in fact, impressed many with his solid defence and the ability to retrieve from difficult angles. His court movement too, was very good and the way he even engaged the more reputed rival was a treat to watch. Apparently, he was not expected to win but certainly won the appreciation of chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, who was in the commentary box during the game.

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“I liked his composure, maturity for his age and his court movements. Definitely, in the days to come with the desired hard work, he should go a long way,” Gopichand remarked later. 

With team scores tied three-all, Lee Yong Dae and Kim Ha Na combined well for Warriors to wrap up the tie 4-3 with an emphatic win over Dhruv Kapila and Sanjana Santosh in the mixed doubles, with the latter making her PBL debut. 

After this match, both Chennai and Warriors have 22 points each. 

The results: North-Eastern Warriors bt Chennai Superstarz 4-3

(Kaushal Dharmamer bt K. Sathish Kumar 15-3, 15-11; Bodin Isara & G. Krishna Prasad lost to B. Sumeeth Reddy & Dhruv Kapila 13-15, 14-15; Asmita Chaliha lost to Kirsty Gilmour (T) 12-15, 11-15; Lee Cheuk Yiu (T) bt S. Sankar Muthuswamy 15-8, 15-11; Lee Yong Dae & Kim Ha Na bt Dhruv Kapila & Sanjana Santosh 15-11, 15-9).

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