Hunters Win a Humdinger Against Ahmedabad Smashmasters

An excellent started followed by a few missteps and a frightening prospect of being blanked out was very real for the Hyderabad Hunters. The skipper PV Sindhu was playing her first trump match of the league and Kirsty Gilmour seemed to have had the measure of her at one-game all and match point in the third.

Sindhu and the Hunters seemed down and out for the count at 12-14 in the final game, and yet the Hunters skipper mustered all her resilience to pull off a heist-of-sorts to take three points on the bounce, and eventually the match. That leveled the tie at 3-3 and the Hunters had every chance to take it in the final encounter – which they eventually did.

It ended a thrilling night of badminton, slightly on a disappointing note for the home team, but a sensational tie nevertheless.

Bodin Isara took up the mixed doubles duties alongside Eom Hye Won in the opening encounter of the night – against Satwik Sairaj & Sikki Reddy. A competitive first game went to the Hunters at golden point, while the second game was relatively easy for the Hunters. Having established an early lead, Bodin & Eom stayed ahead all through and sealed it 15-14 15-9.

A perfect start for the Hunters, and the stage was set for Rahul Yadav – making his Premier Badminton League debut. Rahul was up against Daren Liew in the trump match for the Ahmedabad Smashmasters. The big stage didn’t seem to deter the youngster, as he peeled away some delectable shots and stayed well in hunt to at least take a game off his more experienced opponent.

Rahul narrowly missed out though, losing 13-15. And Daren then drew all his experience to seal the second game 9-15. Despite the loss, Rahul clearly gave an excellent account of himself and the experience should only make him a better player. The trump won, Ahmedabad edged ahead 2-1 and still had Viktor Axelsen to come next.

The Hunters were also confident given that Mark was coming out next, and he was yet to lose a match in the PBL. Viktor made a fast start and it felt Mark was searching for some answers as Viktor took the game with relative ease. Mark, was never going to give up easily – something which has endeared him to all the fans this season – and he managed a sensational comeback to take the second game, and square it all up!

The decider went much as the first game. And this time the home crowd got right behind Viktor. A couple of uncharacteristic errors from the Dutch #1 meant that his lost his perfect record for the tournament as well as match – conceding a 1-3 advantage to the Smashmasters for the evening.

Skipper PV Sindhu was playing her first trump of the evening. And following the reversals in the men’s singles – she definitely had her work cutout to bring the Hunters back into the contest. A nail-biting first game was decided by a golden point in favor of the Hunters – and the skipper was just a game away from hauling the Hunters back on level terms. But Kristy Gilmore was having none of that as she stamped her mark on the game with a 12-15 reversal – to force a decider.

 

The decider was an absolute rollercoaster with both players pinging smashes and indulging in some deft net play. At 12-12 – the match seemed head for a photo finish, when Kristy pulled away and had three match points to seal the tie for the home team. The hunters skipper, then came back roaring to take three points on the bounce and secure the trump for the Hunters.

On level terms, all to play for in the final encounter.

Bodin Isara & Kim Sa Rang – stepped out for the final match of the evening taking the first game with relative ease. The fortunes reversed in the second game, with Ahmedabad taking it with a similar ease. The final game was nicely set up – with the winner to take the game, match and tie!

14-14 in the final game of the final match – perfectly summed up the contest. Bodin & Kim kept their nerve and took the Hunters past the tape and the home team lost their third match on the trot.

A thrilling contest, a fantastic win, and the Hunters head to Bangalore with gusto and confidence!