PBL Season 5: North Eastern Warriors notches 5-0 win over Pune Aces

World No. 18 Lee Cheuk Yiu ensured that Warriors wrapped up the third straight match in the contest when he outclassed World No. 31 Lo Kean Yew.

Michelle Li was tested by a young Rituparna Das but the World No.10 prevailed at the end.   -  NAGARA GOPAL

North Eastern Warriors continued its impressive run in the Premier Badminton League by notching up yet another convincing 5-0 win over Pune 7 Aces to move to the top of the table in the Premier Badminton League championship at Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.

With this win, Warriors have effectively sealed a semifinal place after handing Pune it's first defeat in this edition.

Even as the match was effectively sealed in favour of Warriors by the time World No. 100 Rituparna Das took on World No. 10 Michelle Li, the highlight was the former’s brilliant fightback under pressure.

Rituparna stretches Michelle

After winning the first game with ease, Michelle, playing the Trump match for her team, was surprised by the tenacity and grit of Rituparna, who showed great composure and better control of the shuttle to get her returns right in the second game, especially in the closing stages.

As it Happened: PBL Season 5: Warriors snaps Pune's unbeaten run

In the decider, it was Michelle who took a comfortable 9-4 lead before Rituparna scored four points in a row to level the scores, putting a lot of pressure on the more reputed rival with her delectable net game. Then, towards the end of the game, the Pune shuttler’s erratic backhand return saw Michelle avoid a major embarrassment.

Saensomboonsuk beats Sakai

Earlier, in the first match of the evening, World No. 45 Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Warriors put behind a dismal start to come back strongly and down a fighting Kazumasa Sakai.

It was Sakai who looked the better player to start with a far superior net game and he was able to push the opponent to the backcourt repeatedly. But just when it mattered, his game went awry as Tanongsak apparently drawing from his vast experience came up with some telling smashes and an impressive backhand to turn the tables on.

In the second game too, it was almost a similar story with the lead changing hands before the scores were tied 13-all and 14-all when Tanongsak clinched it with a typical blend of aggression and solid net game.

Lee-Kim stun Chris-Gabrielle

Then in a major upset, Lee Yong Dae and Kim Ha Na of Warriors shocked World No.13 pair of Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock which happened to be the Trump match for Pune with a clinical performance in the mixed doubles contest to give the team a 2-0 lead.

In a stunning display of excellent coordination at the net where Kim Ha Na was exceptional with her speed and precision in placing those drops even as her partner Lee Yong Dae came up with the trademark smashes from the back. So much so that the reputed Pune combine of Adcocks struggled to get the rhythm right through the match.

And, World No. 18 Lee Cheuk Yiu ensured that Warriors wrapped up the third straight match in the contest when he outclassed World No. 31 Lo Kean Yew.

Lee was a vastly superior player with an amazing range of strokes especially the way he essayed jump smashes to the corners of the seemingly hapless opponent. The ability to control the pace of the game was the decisive factor for Lee.

The only win for Pune came from the men’s doubles combine of Chirag Shetty and Hendra Setiawan.

The results: North-Eastern Warriors bt Pune 7 Aces 5-0 (Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk bt Kazumasa Sakai 15-13, 15-14; Lee Yong Dae & Kim Ha Na bt Chris Adcock & Gabrielle Adcock (T) 15-6, 15-8; Lee Cheuk Yiu bt Loh Kean Yew 15-12, 15-8; Michelle Li (T) bt Rituparna Das 15-8, 13-15, 15-13; Bodin Isara & G. Krishna Prasad lost to Chirag Shetty & Hendra Setiawan 12-15,15-8).

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