PBL 2019: Mumbai upset defending champs Hyderabad, set up final clash with Bengaluru
It was a no-brainer to guess where the loyalties of the crowd lay in the semi-final contest between defending champions Hyderabad Hunters and Mumbai Rockets at the Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday. The weekend crowd reserved the loudest cheers for PV Sindhu representing the Hunters.
From the time she appeared with Carolina Marin for a courtside interview ahead of the tie to making a stylish entry with neon lights flashing behind her, Sindhu was cynosure of all eyes. However her side, Hyderabad Hunters, was outplayed by Mumbai Rockets who scripted a 4-2 win to set up a title clash with home team Bengaluru Raptors on Sunday.
Before Sindhu began her match, third of the tie, Mumbai had raced to 3-0 lead with wins in men’s doubles and men’s singles. Sindhu, playing a trump match, defeated Shreyanshi Pardeshi 15-6, 15-5 to bridge the gap to 3-2.
Antonsen the star
It was then left to world No. 33 Lee Hyun of Korea to keep Hyderabad in the hunt in the second men’s singles. But world No. 18 Anders Antonsen of Denmark proved too good for Lee Hyun as he rallied in the first game and eventually seal the tie 15-13, 15-6.
Antonsen, down 8-13, roared back, showing his repertoire that has marked him as a rising star of world badminton. At 13-13 in the first game, Antonsen’s backhand push gave him a match-point, and he calmly played a rally before finishing with a smash to win the first game. Antonsen never allowed Lee to come back in the second game taking Mumbai to their third final.
Lee Yong Dae is one of the most reputed names in world badminton when it comes to doubles. The Korean is a superstar in his own country, having won mixed doubles gold in 2008 Beijing Olympics and staying world No 1 in men’s doubles with partner Yoo Yeon-seon for 104 consecutive weeks.
Lee has come out of retirement and is pairing up with a new partner in Gi Jung Kim. The explosive energy the duo brings to the game was for all to see. The two simply enthralled the crowd with their performance. Hyderabad’s Bodin Isara and Sa Rang Kim tried to keep pace with the duo, triggering fast, exciting exchanges. But Lee and Jung swiftly wrapped up the tie 15-14, 15-12 to giving Mumbai a roaring headstart.
Mumbai expanded the lead through Sameer Verma who is the most improved Indian on the circuit in last couple of years. He has a big heart, has the drive to pick every shuttle and doesn’t give up. Dutch Mark Caljouw, ranked 35, could hardly trouble Sameer who smashed with power to pick a 15-8, 15-7 victory. His win took Mumbai to a 3-0 lead, having won his trump match.