It was a stunning display first by Lee Cheuk Yiu and then the men’s doubles combine of Bodin Isara and Krishna Prasad Garaga that fashioned North-Eastern Warriors’ maiden entry into the final of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) when it outclassed Chennai Superstarz 3- (-1) in the first semifinal at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Friday.
In the mixed doubles match which opened the tie, the Warriors were off to a winning start with Lee Yong Dae and Kim Ha Na scoring a thrilling 15-12, 9-15, 15-14 win over B. Sumeeth Reddy and Jessica Pugh.
It was anybody’s match with the scores tied at 12, 13 and 14-all in the deciding game before Yong Dae came up with a forehand smash to the open, left corner of Chennai's half of the court to seal the deal.
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS | PBL Semifinal-1, As it Happened: Warriors beat Superstarz
Then, in the men’s singles, world No. 18 Lee Cheuk Yiu of Warriors got the better of the more experienced world No. 21 Tommy Sugiarto in a closely fought match. Lee came up with a mixed display of splendid drops, telling smashes and some weak returns too.
But to the delight of his Warriors teammates, Lee raised the level of his game in crunch time in both the games to settle the issue against an erratic Sugiarto, who lost his first match in this edition at the wrong time for his team.
In the men’s doubles match later, trailing 0-2, Chennai had to field the combine of Sumeeth and Dhruv Kapila in what was its Trump match, with the latter replacing the big-hitting Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who is recovering from his ankle injury.
It was a splendid show by the Warriors duo thanks largely to the experienced Isara, who guided the much younger and less experienced Krishna. Isara's tenacity in the face of a series of smashes and his great net game were a treat to watch. Chennai felt the absence Satwik in this crucial doubles match.