The second tie of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League 2017 saw Bengaluru Blasters locking horns with defending champions Delhi Acers at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad on New Year’s Day.
Viktor Axelsen (BEN) vs Jan O Jorgensen (DEL)
The match between the defending champions Delhi Acers and Bengaluru Blasters began with a titanic clash of the super Danes. It was truly a clash of the heavyweights with Jorgensen ranked number two in world and Axelsen at three. With both players familiar with each other’s game as they often train together, the match did prove to be evenly contested as Jorgensen played well on the big points to win 11-9, 11-9.
Axelsen’s reach and power was always going to be a threat for Jorgensen but fell prey to errors. Axelsen did go ahead in the second game at the break at 6-5, using the smash to good effect. With the game evenly poised at 8-8, Jorgensen won a marathon 41-shot rally to move ahead and used it to win the game and match for Delhi.
Result: Jan O Jorgensen (DEL) beat Viktor Axelsen (BEN) 11-9, 11-9
Ko Sung-Hyun/Sikki Reddy (BEN) vs Vladimir Ivanov/Jwala Gutta (DEL)
The second match saw experienced Korean doubles specialist team up with the young Sikki Reddy who proved too hot to handle for the Acers’ team of the ever-dependable Russian Vladimir Ivanov and Jwala Gutta. Hyun and Reddy began well to take a 6-4 lead at the break and won the first game 11-6.
The Blasters’ duo began the second game with Reddy making a few errors but came back from 3-5 down to lead 6-5. The Korean-Indian pair lifted their game to eventually clinch the second set 11-6 to bring the Blasters level with the Acers at 1-1.
Sourabh Verma (BEN) vs Son Wan Ho (DEL) Trump match called by Delhi Acers
The Acers called this encounter as their Trump match and world number four Son Wan Ho was expected to brush aside Sourabh Verma’s challenge without much fuss. Ranked 45 in the world, Verma began aggressively, racing to a 6-3 lead at the break much to everyone's surprise against the heavily favoured Son.
Son used his smashes to fight back to level 10-10 after facing three game points. A long 37-shot rally ensued as Verma induced an error out of Son to lead 11-10. Long rallies were in order as both players fought tooth-and-nail. Verma finally won 15-13 on his fifth game point to win a marathon first game. The 24-year-old used deception very well and combined it with excellent defence to stun the Delhi camp.
Son started the second game brightly but the Madhya Pradesh-lad successfully unsettled the Korean with Son making uncharacteristic errors. However, Son lead halfway and at 9-7, Verma hit a 394 km/hr smash to pull one back. Another marathon rally and Son finally won the set.
Eventually, Son pulled off a tough win and the Delhi Acers heaved a sigh of relief after Verma's brave challenge, resulting in an enthralling match. The tie was now in Delhi’s hands with a 3-1 lead.
Result:Son Wan Ho (DEL) beat Sourabh Verma (BEN) 13-15, 11-9, 11-6
Ko Sung-Hyun/Yoo Yeon Seong (BEN) vs Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov (DEL)
Reigning All-England Champions Ivanov and Suzanov are the only current men's doubles team in the tournament giving them a slight advantage over the rest of the competition. The Korean pair of Hyun and Seong however, were partners till 2012 and were more than formidable as the Russians were about to find out.
The Koreans stormed to a 10-6 lead but the Russians fought back brilliantly to snatch the first game 12-10. The Blasters were shocked by this stunning fightback and to the credit of Hyun and Seong, they came out firing on all cylinders to sweep through the next two games 11-3, 11-6 to put their side in pole position going into the final encounter.
Cheung Ngan Yi (BEN) vs Tanvi Lad (DEL) Trump match called by Bengaluru Blasters
With the final match being a Trump match for the Blasters, the advantage was very much with them. Bengaluru’s world number 20 Cheung Ngan Yi took on little-known Tanvi Lad, currently ranked 57 in what was expected to be a lopsided win for Yi.
The Hong Kong native started well as expected to lead 6-2 at the break. Lad made Yi stretch after the break, giving a good account of herself before going down fighting 9-11.
Lad grew in confidence after that showing and went into the break leading 6-5. She then blitzed through to take the second game 11-6 showcasing tremendous grit and determination. Bengaluru looked shell-shocked and there was hope for Delhi as the match went into the deciding game. Yi then dispelled all notions of an upset by racing to 6-0 break at the break and eventually won the set 11-2 as things began on a sour note for the defending champions.
Result:Cheung Ngan Yi (BEN) beat Tanvi Lad (DEL) 11-9, 6-11, 11-2
Final Result: Bengaluru Blasters beat Delhi Acers 4-3