In a battle between Warriors, it was the Awadhe Warriors, playing its first tie this season, that made a brilliant comeback to beat North Eastern Warriors 4-3 in the Premier Badminton League (PBL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday.
Both teams included only the minimum PBL requirement of one Indian in their respective lineups for this contest. North East made two changes from its 4-3 triumph over Bengaluru Raptors on Tuesday.
Canada’s Michelle Li took Ashmita Chaliha’s place in women’s singles, while 19-year-old Krishna Prasad Garaga was also included. Meanwhile, Subhankar Dey was Awadhe’s only Indian representation.
As it happened |
PBL Season 5 highlights: North Eastern Warriors 3-4 Awadhe Warriors
In the most exciting contest of the night, which was also the penultimate one, 2014-World Championships men’s doubles gold medalists Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol of Awadhe Warriors overcame the pair of experience and youth in two-time Olympic medalist Lee Yong Dae and Krishna. This was Awadhe’s trump match as well.
Except for a one-sided first game that went in favour of the North East pair, the match was an absolute cliffhanger. Both teams took each other to the limits and even went on to play a sensational 56-shot rally.
Despite often finding themselves in a spot of bother, the experienced Sung Hyun and Baek Cheol held their nerve to push the clash into the decider. That game too could have gone either way but Yong Dae and Krishna looked a bit rusty, eventually conceding the advantage to their opponents who sealed the encounter 8-15, 15-14, 15-12.
Subhankar then faced off against North East’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk with the overall score tied at 3-3. In this virtual shootout, the former showed better agility to quickly snatch the first game 15-9. Tanongsak did put up a better effort in the next game but Subhankar, upping his intensity, played closer to the net and executed neatly timed shots, out of the reach of his Thai opponent. Finally, the Awadhe shuttler led his team to victory in the overall tie after ending the outing 15-9, 15-13. He was also adjudged the player of the tie.
Earlier, North East’s Bodin Isara and Kim Ha Na started their mixed doubles match on a losing note against Sung Hyun and Rio Olympics silver medalist Christinna Pedersen of Awadhe Warriors. Sung Hyun and Pedersen won the clash, which included a controversial decision, 8-15, 15-11, 15-14.
Towards the end of the third game, when Sung Hyun tried to retrieve an Isara shot he looked to have taken the shuttle on the bounce. However, the chair umpire awarded Awadhe the point. Isara went on a protest and demanded a challenge but the umpire deemed it too late. Replays showed that the North East should have claimed the point. From there, the Sung Hyun-Pedersen duo went on to bag the game on deciding point.
Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu, who defeated Sai Praneeth two days ago, took the responsibility of playing North East’s trump match on the night. He looked off-colour in a 13-15 opening game loss to his senior countryman Wong Wing Ki Vincent. However, the world No. 23 proved his mettle once again as he mounted a strong comeback in the final two games winning 15-10, 15-11.
Canada’s Michelle came out on top against USA’s Beiwen Zhang in a battle between North American shuttlers. The North East star registered a closely-fought straight-game (15-13 15-14) win in the women’s singles to increase her team’s lead on the night.
However, the 1-3 deficit was soon overturned by the victorious Awadhe Warriors at the end of the night.