Bengaluru: The battle of the 2018/2019 Premier Badminton League (PBL) final between Bengaluru Raptors and Mumbai Rockets went down to wire before former World champions Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan won the championship point for Bengaluru and seized the title from Mumbai Rockets with an overall 4-3 victory on Sunday.
After a 5-0 loss in a regular league tie against Bengaluru at the same venue earlier last week, where only Pia Zebadiah Bernadet of Indonesia and Kim Gi Jung of South Korea were the only players to score a point by beating English pair of Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis 15-14, 15-13 during that tie, Mumbai has decided to place a bet on Pia Zebadiah Bernadet and Kim Gi Jung again in the final.
Playing for the Trump match for Mumbai in the final, Pia Zebadiah Bernadet and Kim Gi Jung didn’t disappoint as they were again able to get their team to a strong start by outlasting Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis of Bengaluru Raptors 15-8, 15-14 in the opening match of the final.
The World No. 8 Kidambi Srikanth from Bengaluru Raptors then halted Mumbai’s run, showing no mercy in a clinical first men’s singles thumping of Anders Antonsen to take the match 15-7, 15-10 and made overall score 1-2.
Selecting Vietnam’s Vu Thi Trang as its trump player instead of Kidambi Srikanth was a risky one, but the bold move eventually paid off for the Raptors. Vu earned her a team a chance to win the title by seeing off World No. 202 Shriyanshi Pardeshi 15-7, 15-9 to give Raptors 3-2 up in the tie. Mumbai would have walked away with the title had Shriyanshi won that match.
In the second men’s singles match, Sameer Verma of Mumbai got the better of Sai Praneeth 7-15, 15-12, 15-3 and drew Mumbai Rockets level in the tie at 3-3.
With the game tied, the gripping final then went down to the wire and the fight for the title was taken down to the men’s doubles match between Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan of Bengaluru Raptors and Kim Gi Jung/Lee Yong Dae of Mumbai Rockets.
After a strong smash from Setiawan, the fiercely contested first set was won by Setiawan/Ahsan 15-13.
The Bengaluru Raptors players and fans erupted in joy when Kim Gi Jung made an unforced error to hand Raptors the second set 15-10 and also the 2018/2019 PBL title.