In the 2nd semi-final of the Premier Badminton League, the league debutants Ahmedabad Smash Masters will take on Bengaluru Blasters for a place in the final of the 2018 edition,
The team that emerges victorious in this encounter will take on a red-hot Hyderabad Hunters team that beat Delhi Dashers in the other semi-final on Friday.
The Smash Masters boasts of two top-class singles players in the form of HS Prannoy and World No 1 Tai Tzu Ying. While Prannoy will square it off against World No 1 Viktor Axelsen, the women’s singles match will be between Tai Tzu and young Kirsty Gilmour.
The semi-final will kick off with the first men’s singles match between Smash Masters’ Sourabh Verma facing Blasters’ Chong Wei Fang.
The Trump card matches of the day will be the men’s doubles match followed by the women’s singles match between Tai Tzu and Gilmour.
Meanwhile on Friday, former World Champion Carolina Marin came back from a game down to steer Hyderabad Hunters into the final of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium.
Marin, cheered on by a vociferous home crowd, overcame a fighting Sun Ji Hun 13-15, 15-10, 15-9 to dash the hopes of Delhi Dashers in a gripping semi-final. She picked up two points for her win as her team’s Trump player.
Earlier, local hero B Sai Praneeth set up the victory by beating the Dashers’ Trump player Tian Houwei. The Hyderabadi was on song, rattling the Chinese World No 22 with a flurry of down the line smashes.
He raced away to a 15-9, 15-8 victory to get the crowds on their feet. The Hunters shot into a 1-0 lead as the Dashers lost the point that they had won while also yielding a point.
The Hunters began on the wrong foot, with the Hyderabad duo of Pia Zebadiah Bernadet and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy losing the opening clash.
They lost to Ashwini Ponnappa and Vladimir Ivanov 15-13, 10-15, 10-15 as the crowd fell silent.
Ashiwni and the tall Russian lost the first game but cam back strongly in the next two. India’s doubles specialist Ashwini was in her elements as she ensured Delhi’s comeback with her decisive returns.
They took charge soon to wrap up the next two games 15-10, 15-10.
The clash between Marin and Sung Ji was a thriller, with both players showcasing a range of shots while also defending well.
Marin suffered a setback in the opening game as Sung Ji toyed around with her, mixing her drop shots with perfection. It was still a close match, with Marin losing 13-15.
The second game was tighter and gave the fans a lot to cheer about as Marin lifted her game. She was rolling hard and retrieved virtually every shot to frustrate the Korean.
Midway through the game, she took charge with a series of points to deflate Sung Ji 15-10. Thereafter, it was Marin all the way.
She didn’t give the visibly tiring Sung Ji any opportunity and forced her into errors to capture the third game as well as the match.
With inputs from IANS