Acers drub Smashers, enter PBL final
Bengaluru: Tommy Sugiarto’s thrilling win in the final Trump Match helped Delhi Acers beat Chennai Smashers 4-3 and enter the final of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium here on Thursday.
The Acers exacted revenge for their 3-4 loss to the Chennai-based team in the league phase and won the crucial semifinal to put one hand on the PBL trophy.
The Acers will play the winner of the other semifinal between Awadhe Warriors and Mumbai Rockets, to be played in Hyderabad on Friday, in the summit clash to be held at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi on Sunday evening.
Experienced Malaysian pair of Koo Keat Kien and Tan Boon Heong beat Smashers’ scratch men’s doubles combination of Pranaav Chopra and Chris Adcock 15-10, 15-14 to give the Acers a 1-0 lead in the tie. Though Adcock fought well, Chopra turned out the weaker link in the pair.
“It was an amazing match. Both the teams fought very hard to take the early lead. We got a good start by winning the first game. Second game was very challenging and we just held our nerves till the last point which helped us win the match,” said Kien.
The Acers’ loyal and valiant warrior Ajay Jayaram then earned a come-from-behind victory to give the Delhi-based team a 2-0 lead by drubbing Sony Dwi Kuncoro 14-15, 15-10, 15-7.
Next up was a match between the Adcock couple as Gabrielle, partnering Kien, had to go up against her husband Chris, who was partnering Pia Zebadiah. Chris and Pia, representing the Smashers, pulled things back by comfortably clinching the match 15-9, 15-14 to make it 1-2 for the Chennai team.
“We really needed this win for our team. After two losses, this win was a breather. We stepped on the court with some set strategies and implemented them perfectly. We had a good start and continued with the same game-plan in the second game. We are happy with this win,” said Adcock.
World Championship double bronze medallist and captain P.V. Sindhu put the Smashers ahead for the first time in the tie when she thrashed P.C. Thulasi 15-6, 15-7 in what was her Trump Match, giving her team two points. The win resulted in the Smashers leading the tie 3-2.
“It was a good match and a good win for my team. I just played my natural game and didn’t give much room to my opponent. Thulasi is a very talented player and I played against her many times before,” Sindhu, who trains with Thulasi at the Gopichand Badminton Academy, said.
“She challenged me on a few occasions but she committed mistakes, which gave us the important Trump Match in our kitty.”
The Acers then threw their ace into the arena as Sugiarto stepped up. And the Indonesian did not disappoint and clinched his fifth consecutive victory in the six-team tournament against Smashers’ Brice Leverdez, beating the Frenchman 15-11, 15-14 and putting the Acers in the final.