PBL: Defending champion Bengaluru Raptors suffers narrow loss to North Eastern Warriors

North Eastern Warriors's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk beat Brice Leverdez 15-7, 15-8 in the final match of the evening to help secure the tie 4-3.

Lee Cheuk Yiu of North Eastern Warriors beat Bengaluru Raptors's B. Sai Praneeth.   -  R. Ragu

World Championships bronze medallist Sai Praneeth's loss to 23-year-old Hong Kong shuttler Lee Cheuk Yiu headlined defending champion Bengaluru Raptors' 3-4 loss to North Eastern Warriors here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.

World No. 18 Cheuk Yiu, who beat the likes of Shi Yu Qi, Viktor Axelsen, Kidambi Srikanth and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting on his way to the Hong Kong Open title last year, took Praneeth to the limits in the first men's singles clash of the tie. The North East star, with better court awareness, claimed the first game 15-14 when his challenger hit one long while going for a cross-court backhand return on deciding point. 

A few moments later, he gave the Indian world No. 11 a run for his money in the next game and claimed a 9-5 lead. From there, there was only one winner as Praneeth lost steam and eventually conceded the match to Cheuk Yiu, after losing the second 9-15. The overall score for the day read 1-1 at that time.

During another outing in the night, women's singles world No. 2 Tai Tzu Ying had it easy against India's rising star Ashmita Chaliha in a 15-7, 15-5 win. This was the Raptors' trump match. Tai made her return to PBL after missing the 2018-19 season and the Chinese Taipei star was spot on with her smash and drop placement. The 20-year-old Ashmitha, making her PBL debut, would have gained some valuable lessons from this encounter against a very experienced opponent.

Raptors vs Warriors Highlights

Earlier, Bengaluru got off to a quick start in the opening match of the tie after the mixed doubles pair of Rio Olympics silver medalist Chan Peng Soon of Malaysia and Eom Hye Won of South Korea romped to a 15-8, 15-11 win over the Warriors' Korean pair Lee Yong Dae and Kim Ha Na. Peng Soon and Hye Won dominated the exchanges right from the beginning to quickly finish off the first game.

However, in the second, Yong Dae, the winner of a whopping 43 Superseries titles in doubles, and Ha Na, with a better attacking strategy, cruised to a 7-3 lead for the Warriors. But once again the Raptors duo, showing immense calmness, took back the lead in no time and beat their adversaries to hand last year's winner the early advantage.

The penultimate clash of the day was North East's trump match in which their reliable men's doubles stars Yong Dae and Bodin Isara of Thailand beat India's Arun George and Indonesia's Rian Agung Saputro 15-12, 15-6.

With the overall score tied 3-3, Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, who is a regular at PBL, then completed the task of sealing the tie for his side after beating French veteran Brice Leverdez 15-7, 15-8 in a one-sided affair during the other men’s singles encounter of the night.

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