Hyderabad, Jan 14: Bengaluru Blasters set up a potentially explosive title clash with Hyderabad Hunters, gritting their way to a hard-fought victory in the semi-finals of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.
The Blasters’ star player Viktor Axelsen and their mixed doubles pair of Kim Sa Rang and Sikki Reddy won the last two matches of the contest to beat a valiant Ahmedabad Smash Masters 4-3.
The final will take place on Sunday.
Earlier, Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying came back from an error-prone defeat in the first game, to win her crucial Trump match and keep the Smash Masters alive in the tie.
The World No.1 beat a fighting Kristy Gilmour 2-1 in the women’s singles, the third match of the contest, to give her side a 3-2 advantage on points.
Tai Tzu took the early lead at 4-2 but soon started making too many mistakes, allowing Gilmour to catch up 6-6. She almost looked helpless, as Gilmour kept picking up easy points, to lose the opening game.
She fell behind in the second game too, giving Gilmour a whiff of victory. But then she was suddenly on song, smashing with accuracy to level the scores at 12-12 before going to clinch victory.
Tai Tzu dominated the third game, racing away to a 8-5 lead. She wrapped up the remaining points quickly to wrap up the win.
Axelsen, however, levelled the tie at 3-3, getting the better of H.S. Prannoy in the second men’s singles. It proved to be an easy 15-11, 15-14 victory, even though he had to douse a rousing fight from Prannoy in the second game.
The tall Dane even had to ward off a game point after the two players matched each other all the way till 13-13.
Kim Sa Rang and Sikki Reddy beat Law Cheuk Him and Kamilla Rytter Juhl 15-12, 13-15, 15-9 to the delight of the Blasters’ fans.
Sourabh Verma set the ball rolling for the Smash Masters, overcoming Malaysia’s Chong Wei Feng 2-1 for the first point. The World No.17 smashed his way to an easy 15-2 win the opening game.
The second game was much tighter, with Chong Wei defending a lot more confidently. Sourabh fell behind at 6-9 but caught up with a flurry of strokes at 13-13. They exchanged one more point each to make it 14-14.
But Chong Wei came up with a perfect smash to win it.
Sourabh was back at his best in the decider, even though Chong Wei stayed with him till 9-9. Sourabh picked up a four-point lead to change the momentum. He eventually won 15-10.
The Blasters jumped ahead to a 2-1 lead in the men’s doubles, with Kim Sa Rang and Mathias Boe taking the extra Trump point.
The Hong Kong-Denmark duo were on top right from the start, with Boe controlling the contest from the back of the court.
They beat Lee Chun Hei Reginald and K. Nandagopal 15-13, 15-12.