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Hunters off to a winning start

Flying start: Carolina Marin gave Hyderabad Hunters the start it was looking for as she downed P.V. Sindhu of Chennai Smashers in three games.   | Photo Credit: KVS Giri;KVS Giri -

Carolina Marin gave a winning start to Hyderabad Hunters’ campaign in the first women’s singles, getting the better of P.V. Sindhu as her team beat Chennai Smashers 4-3 in the first match of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League at the Gachibowli indoor stadium here on Sunday.

The much-awaited clash between Marin and Sindhu, a rematch of the final at the Rio Olympics, had the crowd on its feet as the two dished out wonderful array of strokes and delectable half-smashes in the first two games.

Marin scored an 11-8, 12-14, 11-2 win over Sindhu to trigger off celebrations in her dug-out. It was obvious the Spaniard was in no mood to relent even after Sindhu managed to take the issue into the decider. Sindhu did show her typical fighting qualities saving a match-point in the second game with some stunning smashes — one of them into Marin’s body which saw the latter smile in acknowledgement.

But in the decider, Marin moved into a different zone and reeled off winners at will. The way she stretched Sindhu and then set up the big smashes which brooked no return was a treat to watch.

In a way, it was sweet revenge for Marin who was beaten by Sindhu in the recent BWF Dubai Super Series. It was a fantastic display by the Spaniard whose superior net-game was the clinching factor as she showed better control over the game under pressure.

What compounded the misery for Sindhu were her erratic returns and she was not able to get the length right either for her smashes or the returns.

On the other hand, using the half-smash and the big cross-court returns with impeccable placements, Marin emerged the star performer of the evening.

“It was a very, very happy performance by me. I am delighted that I pulled off this win. I was a bit nervous since it was the first match of this PBL,” Marin said later.

“It was never so easy as it might have looked in the final game. The fact is that I focussed on what I should do better and finished off the contest. I think that was the phase when Sindhu was nervous playing in front of the cheering fans,” the champion shuttler remarked.

In the second match, World No. 21 Tommy Sugiarto defeated B. Sai Praneeth 11-6, 11-8 to level the scores but again Chennai Smashers fought back brilliantly to clinch the mixed doubles match — a trump encounter — when Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock downed Hoi Wah Chau and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy 11-7, 11-9.

Importantly for Hunters, World No. 16 Rajiv Ouseph shocked Denmark Open champion Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 6-11, 11-8, 11-6 to keep the team in the hunt.

The focus then shifted to the crucial men’s doubles match, which was the trump match for Hunters, and the gamble paid off when Boon Heong Tan and Wee Kiong Tan won the contest against Mads Pieler Kolding and B. Sumeeth Reddy 11-7, 11-8.

“I think Ouseph’s win was crucial even as we were banking on the men’s doubles pair to pull it off in the trump match which was the last one,” said a pleased Hunters coach Fernando Rivas.

The result (T denotes Trump match): Hyderabad Hunters bt Chennai Smashers 4-3 [Carolina Marin bt P.V. Sindhu 11-8, 12-14, 11-2; B. Sai Praneeth lost to Tommy Sugiarto 6-11, 8-11; Hoi Wah Chau & Satwiksairaj Rankireddy lost to Chris Adcock & Gabrielle Adcock (T) 7-11, 9-11; Rajiv Ouseph bt Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 6-11, 11-8, 11-6; Boon Heong Tan & Wee Kong Tan (T) bt Mads Pieler Kolding & B. Sumeeth Reddy 11-7, 11-8].

Delhi Acers leads Bengaluru Blasters 2-1 [Jan O Jorgensen bt Viktor Axelsen 11-9,11-8; G. Jwala & Vladimirov Ivanov lost to Syung Hyun Ko & N. Sikki Reddy 11-6, 11-6; Son Wan Ho bt Sourabh Verma 13-15, 11-9, 11-6].

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 9:04:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/Hunters-off-to-a-winning-start/article16975208.ece

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