An exceptional display of badminton from Chinese shuttler Han Li ensured the Mumbai Rockets a place in the final of the Premier Badminton League at the Gachibowli indoor stadium in Hyderabad on Friday. They defeated the in-form Awadhe Warriors 3-0 and will meet Delhi Acers in the title clash. In the women’s singles Trump match, Han Li defeated World no. 2 Saina Nehwal 15-8 13-15 15-7 and bagged two points for the Mumbai Rockets in the process.
HS Prannoy and the duo of Vlaimir Ivanov and Mathias Boe also picked up victories for Mumbai in the men’s singles and the men’s doubles categories respectively. The Awadhe Warriors could manage only one win in the entire fixture which was in the mixed doubles category.
Pedersen and Issara draw first blood for Awadhe, Prannoy equalizes:
The first match of the evening was a mixed doubles match and in an intense three-setter, Christinna Pedersen and Bodin Issara made a brilliant comeback to defeat Vladimir Ivanov and Kamilla Juhl 12-15 15-13 15-14. With this win, the Awadhe Warriors took a 1-0 lead. The second match saw HS Prannoy pip Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 12-15 15-7 15-9 in the men’s singles match to draw level.
Next up was the men’s doubles fixture and the Mumbai Rockets’ duo of Ivanov and Mathias Boe combined well to get the better of Issara and Cai Yun. In another three-set affair, the Rockets prevailed 15-10 12-15 15-13.
Saina Nehwal loses Trump match against Han Li, Mumbai through to the Finals:
With the Mumbai Rockets enjoying a slender 2-1 lead, the match was to be decided with a Trump match. Awadhe Warriors’ skipper Saina Nehwal took up the challenge and called for the Trump match; this meant that Saina would get two points if she won and would get a minus one if she lost. She was up against Han Li who was nowhere close in terms of rankings. The Chinese shuttler silenced the Awadhe fans in the first set itself which she won 15-8 in about fifteen minutes.
Saina Nehwal made a strong comeback in the second set and won it 15-13 and the game moved into the decider set. Han Li played her best game and was precise with her returns and combined them with her agility. She inflicted a crushing 15-7 defeat and picked up another point for the Mumbai Rockets while Saina lost one because of the Trump match being called.
The grand finale is to be played on Sunday, January 17 between the Delhi Acers and the Mumbai Rockets. One waits eagerly to see who will be the new Premier Badminton League champions.