Marin carries Hyderabad Hunters into Vodafone PBL final
Hyderabad, Jan 12: Former world champion Carolina Marin came back from a game down to steer Hyderabad Hunters into the final of the third Vodafone Premier Badminton League at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Friday. Marin, cheered on by a vociferous home crowd, overcame a fighting Sun Ji Hun 13-15, 15-10, 15-9 to dash the hopes of Delhi Dashers in a gripping semifinal. She picked up two points for her win as her team’s Trump player. Earlier, another local hero B Sai Praneeth set up the victory by beating the Dashers’ Trump player Tian Houwei. The Hyderabadi was on song, rattling the Chinese World No. 22 with a flurry of down the line smashes. He raced away to a 15-9, 15-8 victory to get the crowds on their feet. The Hunters shot into a 1-0 lead on points, as the Dashers lost the point that they had won while also yielding a point.
The Hunters began onthe wrong foot, with the Hyderabad duo of Pia Zebadiah Bernadet andSatwiksairaj Rankireddy capitulating in the opening clash. They lost to AshwiniPonappa and Vladimir Ivanov 15-13, 10-15, 10-15 to silence the crowds. Ashiwniand the tall Russian lost the first game but cam back strongly in the next two.India’s doubles specialist Ashwini was in her elements as she ensured Delhi'scomeback with her decisive returns. They took charge soon to wrap up the nexttwo games 15-10, 15-10.
The Marin-Sun Jiclash was a thriller, with both players showcasing a range of shots while alsodefending well. Marin suffered a setback in the opening game as Sun Ji toyedaround with her, mixing her drop shots with perfection. It was a close matchstill, with Marin losing 13-15. The second game was tighter and gave the fans alot to cheer as Marin lifted her game. She rolling hard and retrieved virtuallyevery shot to frustrate the Korean.
Midway through thegame, she took charge with a series of points to deflate Sun Ji 15-10.Thereafter, it was Marin all the way. She didn’t give the visiblytiring Sun Ji any opportunity and forced her into errors to capture the thirdgame as well as the match.
Two World No. 1's in action in second semifinal
PBL debutantsAhmedabad will be keen to extend their superb run when they take on BengaluruBlasters in the second semifinal on Saturday.
Having logged 17points, Ahmedabad finished second in the league standings while Bengaluru werefourth with 14 points in their kitty.
This battle for aspot in the final presents a fresh challenge for both teams as neither hasfaced each other so far.
Women’s World No. 1Tai Tzu-ying and World No. 10 HS Prannoy are the top guns in Ahmedabad'sarsenal but Bengaluru are no pushovers as they have the Men’s World No. 1Viktor Axlesen in their ranks.
First Semifinal results
Hyderabad Hunters 2 (3 points) bt Delhi Dashers 1 (0 points)
XD: Pia Zebadiah Bernadet/Satwiksairaj Rankireddy lost to Ashwini Ponappa / Vladimir Ivanov 15-13, 10-15,10-15
MS: B Sai Praneeth bt TianHouwei (T) 15-9, 15-8.
WS: Carolina Marina (T) bt SunJi Hyun- 13-15, 15-10, 15-9
MD: Markis Kido/ Yoo YeonSeong v Ivan Sozonov/ Vladimir Ivanov- Not Played
MS: Lee Hyun Il v Guru SaiDutt-Not Played