New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) Chennai Smashers emerged the 2017 Premier Badminton League (PBL) champions after defeating Mumbai Rockets 4-3 in a pulsating summit clash at the jampacked Siri Fort Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.
The stage was set for a perfect final with the result still hanging till the last game before Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk came from behind to clinch the second men’s singles tie 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 against Ajay Jayaram to help Chennai clinch the title.
Earlier, Chennai were off to a superb start with the English husband-wife combo of Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock convincingly winning their Trump mixed doubles match 11-9, 11-6 against the Mumbai duo of Nipithphon Phuangphuapet and Nadiezda Zieba.
The first game started on an even note with both the pairs leveling each other till the Adcocks marched ahead 6-5 into the break. The Thai-Polish Mumbai duo then clawed back to level scores at 9-9 before a brilliant drop shot from Chris sealed the game in Chennai’s favour.
In the second game, the Mumbai pair came back well to get to a 6-4 lead into the break but post that it was one-way traffic for the Chennai combo, who eclipsed the lead in no time and went on to take five consecutive points to clinch the game and the crucial bonus point for the team.
Next up was the women’s singles match between World No.6 P.V. Sindhu and World No.3 Sung Ji Hyun, which the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist won 11-8, 11-8.
Sindhu, who lost in her last encounter against the South Korean in the semi-finals of the season-ending Badminton World Federation (BWF) Super Series final in Dubai last month, left that behind her to better her head to head count against Hyun to 7-4.
Both the shuttlers went neck and neck in the initial few moments of the first game before the Hyderabadi seized the lead 6-4 to go into the break.
Coming back, Hyun won a tiring 44-shot rally to make it 6-7 and then went on to equalise it at 7-7 before Sindhu displayed some exceptional skills to clinch the first game to a thunderous applause.
The second game witnessed the 25-year-old Hyun’s aggressive play as she drew level at 5-5 but Sindhu’s absolute precision at that point helped her regain the lead 6-5 in the break.
Post the break, the 21-year-old Sindhu stifled her opponent as she went on to consolidate her lead to 10-6 before a long rally of 22 shots helped Hyun lessen the gap to 10-7 but that was all she could manage as the Indian walked away with the game in no time to give a strong 3-0 lead to her side.
Trailing 0-3, Mumbai faced a do-or-die situation in their Trump men’s doubles match between the South Korean-Thai combo of Lee Yong Dae and Nipithphon Phuangphuapet and Chennai pair of Chris Adcock and Mads Pieler Kolding.
Lee and Nipithphon raised Mumbai’s hopes by taking a slender 6-5 lead into the break of the first game until the English-Danish duo bounced back to equal the scores at 7-7 and went on to lead 9-8 before the Mumbai boys kept their cool to clinch it 12-10.
Continuing their domination in the second game, the Asian pair took a substantial 6-2 lead at the break to consolidate it further to 9-6 and give Mumbai the upper hand in the tie. Lee and Nipithphon then added two more points quickly to clinch the game 11-6 and save Mumbai from further embarrassment.
Mumbai made it 3-3 as 2016 Swiss Open gold medallist H.S. Prannoy beat Chennai’s Parupalli Kashyap 11-4, 8-11, 11-8 in the first men’s singles ties, to extend his unbeaten streak to seven matches in the PBL.
While Prannoy had to drop little sweat to win the first game comfortably, the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kashyap roared back in the second game to lead 6-3 at the break.
Kashyap further consolidated his lead to 8-4 before pocketing the game 11-8 and taking the match to the decider.
In the third game, Prannoy bounced back in style to take a 6-3 lead at the break before winning it in style and keep Mumbai in the hunt for the title.
With both the teams poised at 3-3, the second men’s singles game between Jayaram and Saensomboonsuk turned out to be the decider of the title.
Jayaram took the first game 11-9 only for the 26-year-old Thailand shuttler to bounce back in the next two games to take the title from Mumbai’s grasps.