Chennai Smashers staved off a spirited comeback from Mumbai Rockets to win 4-3 in the final of the Premier Badminton League here on Saturday. Chennai were 3-0 ahead after the first two matches but Mumbai clawed back to win the next two to set up the decider between T Saensomboonsuk and Ajay Jayaram. Jayaram won the first game 11-9 but the Thai showed aggression and agility to take the next two games 11-7 and 11-3 and seal the title in Chennai’s favour.
Beginning with a trump match, pressure was on Chennai at first. So close was the mixed doubles match between Chennai’s Chris and Gabrielle Adcock and Mumbai’s Nipitphon P and N Zieba that nothing separated them till the score read 9-9 in the first game.
A super drop shot from Chris however allowed Chennai to nose ahead and win the first game. Mumbai were still in the match when they were leading 6-4 in the second game. But then a series of errors on their part, alongwith some ruthless smashes by the Adcocks saw Chennai win seven points in a row. With a pat and a peck, the couple rounded off a professional display that gave Chennai a win in their trump match and lead 2-0.
Sung Ji Hyun had the advantage of being the higher ranked player in the next match but PV Sindhu had the backing of the crowd. The first game again looked close at 7-7 after a 44-shot rally that Sung won but Sindhu kept her calm to win it 11-8. In the second game, three forced errors saw Sung drop to 2-5 but the South Korean then followed up with a string of good rallies and drop shots to pull level. Sindhu however won three points in a row after that before shutting out Sung completely to make it 3-0 in Chennai’s favour.
Mumbai however won their trump when Yong D Lee and Nipitphon beat Chris Adcock and Mads Kolding 12-10, 11-6 to make way for a highly charged match between Purapalli Kashyap and HS Prannoy. Unbeaten running up to the final, Mumbai’s Prannoy cruised to win the first game but Kashyap showed spirit to take the match into the decider.
Kashyap was maintaining good tempo but a futile dive to save a point in the third game hurt his right shoulder. The seriousness of his injury could be gauged from the fact that he had to seek help to carry his bag while changing ends. Sensing his opportunity, Prannoy moved in on Kashyap quickly, winning the last game 8-11 to allow Mumbai draw level with Chennai.