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Hyderabad Hunters snares the big prize

Champions: The Hyderabad Hunters players are on cloud nine after beating Bengaluru Blasters.

Champions: The Hyderabad Hunters players are on cloud nine after beating Bengaluru Blasters.   | Photo Credit: NagaraGopal

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Bengaluru Blasters loses a finale that goes down to the wire

Powered by the experience and class of Olympic champion Carolina Marin and the youthful exuberance of 17-year-old R. Satwiksairaj in the crucial mixed doubles, Hyderabad Hunters scripted a hard-fought 4-3 win over Bengaluru Blasters in the final of the third Premier Badminton League championship at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Sunday night.

With the match scores tied three-all, the focus shifted to the last match of the evening — the mixed doubles. And, to the disappointment of Bengaluru, Kim Sa Rang and N. Sikki Reddy, who had played such a big role in their team’s campaign right through, faltered — losing to Satwik and Pia Zebadiah.

To the delight of a vociferous home crowd, Satwik served a reminder of his growing reputation in doubles with some incredible smashes and lovely interceptions to be a perfect complement to his Indonesian partner Pia.

Earlier, Bengaluru was off to a winning start thanks to the brilliance of veteran Mathias Boe, guiding his young partner Kim Sa Rang, in men’s doubles over Markis Kido and Yoo Yeon Seong.

Later in the first men’s singles, World No. 18 Lee Hyun Il of Hyderabad won the team’s trump match, getting the better of a gritty Subhanker Dey. The left-hander brought off some amazing smashes and great acrobatic dives to retrieve almost everything the opponent hit at him.

Then, Bengaluru’s World champion Viktor Axelsen, in the trump match for his team, was too good against crowd favourite B. Sai Praneeth.

World No. 16 Praneeth was woefully short of expectations and nothing went right for him in the face of a barrage of stunning smashes and great backhand returns.

For Hyderabad two-time World champion Carolina Marin raised the bar to down a fighting Kirsty Gilmour in women’s singles. To her credit, the Scottish player did not let her opponent have a free run and matched the Spaniard with some delectable net dribbles.

But, to the dismay of the Bengaluru camp, Gilmour failed to capitalise on a 10-8 lead when Marin committed a series of unforced errors. However, in the tense final moments of the second game when Gilmour had a chance to take it to the decider, Marin meant business and closed out the game.

The result: Hyderabad Hunters bt Bengaluru Blasters 4-3 [Markis Kido & Yoo Yeon Seong lost to Mathias Boe & Kim Sa Rang 15-9, 15-10; Lee Hyun Il (T) bt Subhankar Dey 15-7, 15-13; B. Sai Praneeth lost to Viktor Axelsen (T) 15-8, 15-10; Carolina Marin bt Kirsty Gilmour 15-8, 15-14; R. Satwiksairaj & Pia Zebadiah bt Kim Sa Rang & N. Sikki Reddy 15-11, 15-12].

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 10:50:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/hyderabad-hunters-snares-the-big-prize/article22444356.ece

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