The Bengaluru Raptors kept their title defence in Premier Badminton League alive after a 5-0 win over Awadhe Warriors at the G. M. C. Balayogi SATS Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
A loss for Arun George and Rian Agung Saputro in the men’s doubles meant it was a bad start for the Bengaluru Raptors. However, wins by Brice Leverdez, Tai Tzu Ying and B Sai Praneeth saw the defending champions eventually emerge victorious and qualify for the PBL 2020 semi-finals.
Ko Sung Hyun, Shin Baek Cheol give Awadhe Warriors a good start
The opening match of the evening turned out to be a slugfest in the men’s doubles category as Bengaluru Raptors’ Arun George and Rian Agung Saputro went up against Awadhe Warriors’ Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol.
Arun George and Rian Agung Saputro started strong and led 8-5 in the turn of the opening game. Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol, though, fought back to make it 14-14 but the South Koreans couldn’t prevent Arun George and Rian Agung from winning the first game 15-14.
Undeterred, the South Koreans upped the ante in the second game and won it 15-7 to take the match into the decider. Like the first game, Arun George and Rian Agung Saputro seemed on top again and led 8-5 at the turn of the third game.
However, Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol had different ideas and rallied to win the third game 15-11. By doing so, they didn’t just register the first win of the evening for Awadhe Warriors but also ensured that they became the first men’s singles pair to remain unbeaten in a Premier Badminton League regular season.
Brice Leverdez, Tai Tzu Ying and B Sai Praneeth propel Bengaluru
Next in the order of play was Awadhe Warriors’ trump match and it featured Ajay Jayaram going up against Bengaluru Raptors’ Brice Leverdez. Frenchman Brice Leverdez was in complete control of the match from start to finish and went on to convincingly beat Ajay Jayaram 15-9, 15-9 courtesy some exquisite smashes and slices.
The third match of the evening saw world no. 2 in women’s singles Tai Tzu Ying facing off against world no. 14 Beiwen Zhang. The unbeaten Tai Tzu Ying showed her class straight from the outset but Beiwen Zhang did well to make a fist out of the first game, which the world no. 2 won 15-12. The second game was another tight one but Tai Tzu Ying demonstrated her poise again to clinch it 15-12 and put the Bengaluru Raptors in a commanding position.
The next match witnessed B Sai Praneeth taking on Awadhe Warriors’ Wong Wing Ki Vincent in Bengaluru Raptors’ trump match. B Sai Praneeth made light work of Wong Wing Ki Vincent, beating him 15-11, 15-13 to secure a spot in the semi-finals for Bengaluru Raptors.
The final match of the evening pitted Bengaluru Raptors’Peng Soon Chan and Eom Hye Won against Awadhe Warriors’ Ko Sung Hyun and Christinna Pedersen in the mixed doubles encounter. Despite losing the first set 15-7, Peng Soon Chan and Eom Hye Won came back strongly in the subsequent sets, winning them 15-12, 15-11 to cap off a dominant overall display by the reigning champions.
Premier Badminton League points table
The Bengaluru Raptors finished the regular season second in the Premier Badminton League points table with 22 points and find themselves in the semis with North Eastern Warriors, Chennai Superstarz and Pune 7 Aces, while Awadhe Warriors finished the PBL 2020 campaign in fifth spot.