Hyderabad: Rio Olympic champion Carolina Marin, cheered on by her Hyderabad Hunters teammates, staged an incredible comeback for her team in the Vodafone Premier Badminton League (PBL) final to level the tie at 3-3.
Marin needed only 31 minutes to see off Kirsty Gilmour of Bengaluru Blasters 15-8, 15-14 to keep the tie alive for her team.
Earlier, Bengaluru Blasters got off to great start by winning the first match when Mathias Boe/Kim Sa Rang defeated Markis Kido/Yoo Yeon Seong 15-9, 15-10.
However, World No. 18 Lee Hyun Il of Hyderabad Hunters won the team’s trump match in the first men’s singles match to give his team a slight advantage. The left-handed Lee who was reliant on powerful smashes and covering every inch of the court, where he successfully thwarted Subhanker Dey’s attempt to give Bengaluru Blasters’ a unassailable advantage.
The five-match final turned out to be a pulsating affair with the Blasters’ World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen playing in the trump match for his team, showing off his ferocious smashes and fantastic backhand returns to demolish B. Sai Praneeth 15-8, 15-10 before Carolina Marin notched up a win in women’s singles to make the tie went all the way down to the wire.
Teaming up with Indonesian player Pia Zebadiah Bernadet, India’s 17-year-old Satwiksairaj Rankireddy was able to play well under overwhelming pressure, outlasted the more experienced pair Kim Sa Rang/Sikki Reddy from Bengaluru Blasters to clinch a 15-11, 15-12 win to seal the title for the hosts in front of the delighted home crowd.
2017-2018 Vodafone Premier Badminton League (PBL) Final Results: Hyderabad Hunters bt Bengaluru Blasters 4-3
Men’s Doubles: Markis Kido-Yoo Yeon Seong (Hyderabad Hunters) lost to Mathias Boe-Kim Sa Rang (Bengaluru Blasters) 9-15, 10-15
Men’s Singles: Lee Hyun Il – “Trump Math” (Hyderabad Hunters) bt Subhanker Dey (Bengaluru Blasters) 15-7, 15-13
Men’s Singles: Sai Praneeth (Hyderabad Hunters) lost to Viktor Axelsen – “Trump Math” (Bengaluru Blasters) 8-15, 10-15
Women’s Singles: Carolina Marin (Hyderabad Hunters) bt Kirsty Gilmour (Bengaluru Blasters) 15-8, 15-14.
Mixed Doubles: Pia Bernadet Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (Hyderabad Hunters) bt Kim Sa Rang-N Sikki Reddy (Bengaluru Blasters) 15-11, 15-12.