PV Sindhu’s 2017 began in fine style as her team Chennai Smashers clinched the Premier Badminton League season 2 title in Delhi on Saturday.
Thailand’s T Saensomboonsuk produced a come-from-behind win against India’s Ajay Jayaram in the deciding fifth rubber as Chennai Smashers edged out Mumbai Rockets 4-3 in a thrilling final to lift the trophy.
Chennai and Mumbai won their respective Trump matches and with Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu seeing off Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, it came down to the two men’s singles match to decide the fate of the tie.
Mumbai’s HS Prannoy then edged out Chennai’s Parupalli Kashyap to make it 3-3 but World No 11 Saensomboonsuk ensured that Chennai had the last laugh as he staved off a spirited challenge from Jayaram to secure the title.
Playing their Trump match, Chennai’s British husband-wife pair of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock, the 2014 CWG gold medallist dished out a superlative game to surpass Mumbai combination of Nipitphon Puangpuapech and Nadiezda Zieba 11-9 11-6 to grab two points.
China Open champion Sindhu then outclassed World No 3 and Dubai Super Series Final runners-up Hyun 11-8 11-8 in a dominating display to make it 3-0 in favour of Chennai. It was her second win over Hyun in the tournament, having beaten her once in the league stage.
Mumbai then put the onus on their men’s doubles pair of Yong Dae Lee and Nipitphon Puangpuapech to bring them back into the contest and the duo didn’t disappoint as they notched up a 12-10 11-6 win over Chris and Mads Pieler Kolding in their Trump match to narrow the margin to 2-3.
HS Prannoy then extended his unbeaten streak to seven matches as he eked out a hard-fought 11-4 8-11 11-8 win over a fighting Kashyap in the first men’s singles to make it 3-3.
But Saensomboonsuk produced a brilliant fightback after being a game down to eke out a 9-11 11-7 11-3 win against Jayaram in the deciding rubber.
In the women’s singles match, Sindhu kept hitting the shuttle at the back of court, not allowing Hyun to come near the net. The tactics worked as she led 2-0 but a series of unforced errors saw her lag 2-3. With Sindhu’s another shot going out, Hyun took a 4-2 lead. But the Indian came up with two superb cross court smashes to draw parity and then moved into a 6-4 lead after Hyun hit wide.
Momentum shifted after the break as Hyun erased the deficit after winning a marathon rally that consisted of 44 shots. Sindhu then produced a cross court return to catch her rival at forecourt and then dished out a smash which kissed the net chord.
The Indian finally moved into the game point when Hyun hit out. Another similar error by the Korean and Sindhu wrapped up the opening game. After the change of sides, Hyun had a slender 2-1 lead for a brief time before a wide shot and a judgment error at forecourt by the Korean helped Sindhu to make it 5-2.
However, Hyun once again leveled the score by pocketing three straight points with the help of a deceptive net return, a smash and a beautiful slice at Sindhu’s forehand. But the Indian once again came up with a towering smash to go into the break with 6-5 advantage.
After the interval, Sindhu smashed her way to keep marching ahead and reached the match point when Hyun hit out.
However the Korean saved two points before the Indian unleashed another smash to shut the door on the Korean.