PBL: Chennai Superstarz makes winning start with 5-2 thumping of Hyderabad Hunters

Chennai Superstarz, the home team, raced into a 4-0 lead in the tie that finished 5-2 in the end, with world champion P.V. Sindhu winning Hyderabad Hunters' trump match.

Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy and Jessica Pugh of Chennai Superstarz beat the Hyderabad Hunters pair of Vladimir Ivanov and Sikki Reddy in mixed doubles.   -  R. Ragu

Two teenagers who were roommates during their junior days - Lakshya Sen (Chennai Superstarz) and Priyanshu Rajawat (Hyderabad Hunters) - stole the limelight in the Premier Badminton League (PBL) on Monday. The vociferous crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here stood up and applauded the efforts of two absolute champions after their match was completed.   

Even before P.V. Sindhu took the court for the Hunters' trump match against Gayatri Gopichand of Superstarz, the home team Chennai took an unassailable 4-0 lead in the PBL-5 season opener. The final score read 5-2.

Lakshya, playing his side's trump match, and Priyanshu were involved in an edge-of-the-seat thriller, which lasted for 58 minutes. The seesaw battle ended with 19-year-old Lakshya overcoming 17-year-old Priyanshu after claiming the deciding point when scores were tied at 14-14 in the third and final game.


There were many enthralling moments in the match once Lakshya won the first game 15-6. But the best of them came towards the very end. After Priyanshu claimed the second 15-13, It was 12-all in the third game and the Chennai player returned three consecutive tough smashes to bag the lead.

The next point, both the players were involved in the longest rally of the night. This time the Hyderabad shuttler had the last laugh. At the end of the day, the result of this men's singles clash mattered little as both the youngsters put on a show for the ages.

Sindhu, on the other hand, had it easy against her national coach Pullela Gopichand's daughter Gayatri in a straight-games win. She dominated a match which ended 15-5, 15-5. 

Earlier in the day, Chennai drew first blood with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Jessica Pugh beating Vladimir Ivanov and Sikki Reddy in mixed doubles. The home pair was cruising towards victory in the first encounter of the tie. But an injury scare to Satwik when the Superstarz were a game up and leading 8-5 in the second, seemed to affect the team's performance. 

Ivanov and Sikki then made a comeback to take the game and send the encounter into the decider. In the final game, the Hunters looked set to bag the win, however, Satwik and Pugh shifted gears and employed a more aggressive approach to close out the match and give their side a 1-0 lead in the tie. Immediately after, Satwik sparked off wild celebrations and pumped up the spectators.

Next up, Chennai's Tommy Sugiarto took on Hyderabad's Sourabh Verma. Sugiarto started slowly and conceded a 5-8 lead heading into the break in the first game. However, the Indonesian world No. 22 came back stronger to take the game 15-11. The second game was about who made fewer unforced errors and once again Sugiarto got the better of Sourabh and sealed the game 15-10.

In the final outing of the night, Satwik and Sumeeth Reddy beat the English duo of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy 15-14, 11-15, 15-8 to inflict more pain on the away side.

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