Delhi Acers win the Premier Badminton League
Delhi Acers notched up a thrilling 4-3 victory over Mumbai Rockets in the summit clash to clinch the revamped Premier Badminton League (PBL) title at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here on Sunday.
Tommy Sugiarto, men's doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong and Rajiv Ouseph won their respective matches as Delhi clinched the trophy and pocketed a winner's cheque of Rs 3 crore.
Mixed doubles pair of Kamilla Juhl and Vladimir Ivanov thrashed Gabrielle Adcock and Akshay Dewalkar 15-6, 15-12 to draw frist blood for Mumbai Rockets.
In the first men's singles, Tommy Sugiarto then continued his unbeaten run at the tournament as he saw off Mumbai's H S Prannoy 13-15, 15-9 15-9 to bring Delhi back into the contest.
In the men's doubles match, Ivanov and Mathais Boe played their heart out before going down narrowly 14-15 15-10 15-14 to Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong as Delhi grabbed a 2-1 lead after three matches.
China's Han Li, who had beaten World No. 2 Saina Nehwal on Friday to take Mumbai into the finals, then notched up a 12-15, 15-8, 15-8 win over PC Thulasi in their Trump match to make it 3-2 in Mumbai's favour.
In the deciding match, which was Delhi's Trump match, 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Rajiv Ouseph took the court against RMV Gurusaidutt and he took Delhi across the line by grabbing two points with a 15-11, 15-6 win over the Indian in the last match of the day.
In the first match, Kamilla and Ivanov stamped their authority early as they zoomed to a 8-5 lead at the break. The Denmark shuttler dished out some superb serves to continue their good run and reeled off six points to reach 14-8. Ivanov hit wide but they grabbed the next point to win the opening game.
Adcock and Dewalkar opened up a slender 3-1 lead early on in the second game and reached the interval with a 8-4 cushion. But Mumbai clawed back when Dewalkar hit wide and then wrested a 12-9 lead with Ivanov in full flow. Kamilla's return took Mumbai to a 14-11 match point. Delhi saved one but a service error sealed it in Mumbai's favour next.
In the second match of the day, Sugiarto, who has not lost a match in PBL, took the court against Prannoy and despite a fight from the Indian lead 8-5 at the break when the latter's smash got buried at the nets.
Prannoy clawed back at 9-9 with a cracking smash and moved into the lead at 12-11 when Sugiarto hit the nets. The Indian moved into the game point at 14-12 with a dribble at net and grabbed the opening game when Sugiarto hit long.
Sugiarto once again nosed ahead, grabbing a 8-3 lead in the second game with a cross court return. With Prannoy struggling with his strokes, Sugiarto ran away with the match to bounce back in the contest.
In the decider, Sugiarto continued his dominance and lead 8-3 at the break. The duo engaged in gruelling rallies but Prannoy failed to close the points. The result was Sugiarto zoomed to the match point in a jiffy. The Indian saved three points before the Indonesian sealed his sixth win when Prannoy hit long.
"It was a tough match as it is the Final Tie of the League, so its quite expected. Prannoy played very well today and gave me good competition. Losing the first match was a setback but I came back with better strategies. Happy to win the match, it's big boost to my team," Sugiarto said.
In men's doubles, Ivanov and Boe rallied their way from 5-8 to clinch the opening game after a thrilling battle with Keat and Heong. However, the Delhi pair came back strongly to grab the second game. In the decider, Keat and Heong moved to a 10-3 lead early on and also reached the match point at 14-11.
Ivanov and Boe saved three match points to draw parity but Ivanov hit wide next to hand over the match to Delhi.
Koo Keat Kien and Tan Boon Heaong said: "It was an unbelievable match. We all held our nerves till the last moment. We had some game-plans. Though we lost the first game, the second game turned into a big motivation for us. We gave everything in the third game and eventually managed to out-fox the opponents."
Delhi's Thulasi then conjured up hopes of an upset as she dished out a delectable game of badminton to grab the opening game against Saina slayer Han Li but the Chinese bounced back in style as she brushed aside the Indian in the second game with a much-improved game.
In the decider, Li continued to dominate as she opened up a 8-4 lead at the break. The China shuttler didn't let her guard down after the interval and picked points with ease. Thulashi engaged in rallies and some of her strokes stunnned Li but in the end it was the Chinese who had the last laugh.
The second men's singles turned out to be a edge of the seat affair as Guru and Rajiv fought hard right from the start and the England shuttler entered the first break at 8-7.
The duo continued their tooth and nail battle after the breather moving together till 11-11. Rajiv then changed gears and dominated the rallies and pushed Guru to commit errors who netted one and then sent one long to allow Delhi grab the first game.
In the second game, Rajiv opened up a 8-4 lead and then continued his dominance as Guru's game crumbled.