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Marin survives Ponnappa scare to lead Hunters to thrilling win over Blasters

  • January 08, 2017
  • PBL Media Team
Marin survives Ponnappa scare to lead Hunters to thrilling win over Blasters

The second season of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League saw the action move to the Garden City with the Hyderabad Hunters taking on hosts Bengaluru Blasters on Saturday evening.

Match 1: Boonsak Ponsana (BLR) vs Sameer Verma (HYD)

The first match of the tie began with Sameer Verma making a whirlwind start against Boonsak Ponsana by racing to 6-0 lead at the interval. Ponsana fought back, winning five points in a row after trailing 0-7. The fight came a little too late in the first game as Verma wrapped it up 11-8.

The second game wasn’t going to be as easy a ride as the first as the 22-year old Verma had a slender 6-5 lead going into the break. But Verma raised his game, which included a couple of tremendous smashes, snuffing out Ponsana’s hopes to clinch the second game 11-7 and the match to put the first point on board for the Hunters.

Result: Sameer Verma (HYD) beat Boonsak Ponsana (BLR) 11-8, 11-7

Match 2: Sikki Reddy/Ko Sung-Hyun (BLR) vs Carolina Marin/Satwik Sai Raj (HYD)

The second match was a mixed doubles encounter with the unlikely pair of Carolina Marin and teenage sensation Satwik Sai Raj taking on established doubles in Sikki Reddy and Ko Sung-Hyun. Marin did look like she was finding her feet in the doubles game as the home side took a 6-4 lead into the break. Reddy and Hyun’s experience in the doubles format took them to a 11-9 win in the first game.

The home side looked better in the second game as Reddy and Hyun stormed to a 6-1 lead at the interval. Marin and Satwik showed flashes of brilliance but the first-time pairing proved to be no match for Reddy and Hyun as the Blasters got back level in the tie at 1-1.

Result: Sikki Reddy/Ko Sung-Hyun (BLR) beat Carolina Marin/Satwik Sai Raj (HYD) 11-9, 11-8

Match 3: Viktor Axelsen (BLR) vs Sai Praneeth (HYD)

It was the Bengaluru Blasters who called the first Trump match of the evening where their marquee player Viktor Axelsen took on Sai Praneeth. The Dane was off to a flier as he took a 6-2 lead at the break. Praneeth looked his best to not get overawed as Axelsen’s superior court coverage and excellent smashes proved to be too hot to handle for him, going down 6-11 in the first game.

The second game saw more of Axelsen’s all-round superiority as he once again powered to a 6-2 lead by the interval. Axelsen hit ten winners compared to Praneeth’s two as the 6’4” world number 3 swept through to seize the second game 11-5 to put the Blasters in the driving seat with a 3-1 lead.

Result: Viktor Axelsen (BLR) beat Sai Praneeth (HYD) 11-6, 11-5

Match 4: Ko Sung-Hyun/Yoo Yeon Seong (BLR) vs Tan Boon Heong/Tan Wee Kiong (HYD)

It was time for the evening’s crunch match as the men’s doubles encounter could very well decide the winner of the tie. Blasters’ powerful Korean duo of Ko Sung-Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong were up against the Hunters’ formidable Malaysian pairing of Tan Boon Heong and Tan Wee Kiong in a mouth-watering clash.

The two Tans quickly moved to a 2-0 lead before the Koreans came roaring back to take a 6-3 lead at the break. The Koreans’ game was based on their sound defence and they proved to be too good for the Malaysians as they took the first game comfortably by a 11-5 margin. Hyun and Seong went about with their merry ways in the second game, leading 6-3 at the break. The Blasters pair looked comfortable at 8-4 before an inspired fightback from the Hunters’ pair levelled the game at 9-9. Heong and Kiong held their nerve and saved two match points on their way to clinching the game 13-11.

Heong and Kiong used the momentum from the last game to move to a 6-3 lead midway into the decider. The normally unflappable Korean pair looked to be wilting under pressure as they were only two points from potentially surrendering the tie in the Hunters’ favour. The Malaysian pair though, kept their composure throughout to win the game 11-8 and swing the momentum completely in Hyderabad’s favour.

Result: Tan Boon Heong/Tan Wee Kiong (HYD) beat Ko Sung-Hyun/Yoo Yeon Seong (BLR) 5-11, 13-11, 11-8

Match 5: Ashwini Ponnappa (BLR) vs Carolina Marin (HYD)

The final match saw a Trump match called by the Hyderabad Hunters with Carolina Marin, the overwhelming favourite, against local lass Ashwini Ponnappa, who was playing her first singles match in six years.

Ponnappa came out swinging against the 2016 Olympic gold medallist as she fought tooth and nail to take a slender 6-5 lead at the break. The home crowd got behind their darling as she didn’t look rusty at all with her on-court movement and shocked everyone by winning the game 11-9 in scintillating fashion. Ponnappa’s net-play and smash-hitting prowess made Marin uncomfortable as she continued to make errors. The Bengaluru native made an error-ridden start to the second game Marin comfortably led 6-2 at the interval. The Spaniard fought back in her trademark style to take the second game 11-5.

Ponnappa, however, regrouped and continued to give Marin a run for her money, leading the game 6-4 at the interval. Marin came back aggressively to win the game 11-8 and survived a huge scare to win by the skin of her teeth against a fiercely competitive Ponnappa. The thrilling match proved to be a filling finale for the evening Hyderabad Hunters nudged the tie 4-3.

Result: Carolina Marin (HYD) beat Ashwini Ponnappa (BLR)

Match Result: Hyderabad Hunters beat Bengaluru Blasters 4-3