PBL: Prannoy stars as Ahmedabad Smash Masters make semisJanuary 10, 2018
CHENNAI: HS Prannoy and Tai Tzu Ying flexed their muscles when it mattered most as they led Ahmedabad Smash Masters to a comprehensive 5-0 win over Mumbai Rockets at Nehru Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday. In the process, they sealed their entry to the semi-finals with 17 points. Mumbai Rockets, on the other hand, are out of contention for a top-four berth after a below-par display.
The evening really belonged to Prannoy, who completed a stunning 15-12, 15-12 victory over World No. 5 Son Wan Ho. It was a much-improved display from Prannoy after losing his previous match to Chennai Smashers’ Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk.
In the first game, Prannoy had a relatively slow start with the South Korean managing to take a 3-0 lead. But the world No.10 from India didn’t take too long to find his groove, quickly making it all square at 3-3. From there on, there was little to choose between the two. With Son’s defensive skills being among the best in the world, it was important for Prannoy to be at his attacking best and he didn’t disappoint. After closing out the opening game 15-12 with a deft drop shot that was beyond the reach of his opponent, Prannoy decided to go all out in the second game.
Barring a few unforced errors, there was little at fault with Prannoy’s execution. While he would have had some jitters at 8-11 down in the second game, he eventually managed to breach Son’s defence with his powerful smashes and sealed the match in his favour.
Tai, meanwhile, registered an emphatic 15-9, 15-12 victory and proved that her loss to PV Sindhu on Saturday was nothing more than a minor blip. At the receiving end of the world No.1’s performance was Mumbai’s Beiwen Zhang, who showed some resistance to hang in there but wasn’t up to the task at hand. Zhang’s only ray of hope was when she raced to a 4-0 lead in the second game, but that was short-lived as Tai came roaring back to highlight Ahmedabad’s dominance on the day.
Prannoy and Tai’s good work could have gone to waste, though, if Sourabh Verma hadn’t got the better of his younger brother Sameer in the day’s only Trump match. For the first time this season, both teams coincidentally chose the same game as their Trump match, placing additional importance on the battle between the brothers. Much to Ahmedabad’s relief, it was Sourabh who emerged triumphant with a 15-14, 15-11 victory.
In the first match, the mixed doubles pair of Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Law Cheuk Him eased to a 15-11, 15-7 win against Gabriela Stoeva and Lee Yong Dae. Mumbai’s only consolation was the fact that their pair of Lee Yong Dae and Tan Boon Heong overcame the challenge of Kidambi Nandagopal and Lee Chun Hei Reginald in the final match of the day.
Results: Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Law Cheuk Him (AHM) bt Gabriela Stoeva and Lee Yong Dae (MUM) 15-11, 15-7; HS Prannoy (AHM) bt Son Wan Ho (MUM) 15-12, 15-12; Tai Tzu Ying (AHM) bt Beiwen Zhang (MUM) 15-9, 15-12; Sourabh Verma (AHM) bt Sameer Verma (MUM) 15-14, 15-11; Lee Yong Dae and Tan Boon Heong (MUM) bt Kidambi Nandagopal and Lee Chun Hei Reginald (AHM) 15-10, 15-12