Hyderbad Hunters snatch a victory from the Bengaluru Blasters on PBL Day 7

What a league it was!

Sizzling smashes, fiery shots, and miraculous saves were the order of the day at the Premier Badminton League (PBL) 2017 matches held on 7 January, at Bangalore’s Koramangala Indoor Stadium. Stepout2Play was covering the event live on Twitter and got to watch all the action first-hand.

As the clock struck 6:30 pm, the teams walked into the court, into thunderous applause by the audience.

The first match was the Men’s Singles between – Hyderabad’s Sameer Verma and Bengaluru’s Boonsak Ponsana.

Right from the beginning, Sameer Verma had the upper hand. Boonsak struggled to score under Sameer’s strong volley. The first set ended in Sameer’s favour as he won with a cool 7-11. The Bengaluru Blasters out up a spirited performance in the second set with an initial led of 4-3, but Sameer had other plans. He put up a tough fight and claimed victory in style – 8-11.

The next match had the Olympic Gold Medallist Carolina Marin pairing up with Satwik Reddy, against Bengaluru’s Sikki Reddy and Ko Sung-Hyun.

Satwik was a delight to watch with his fiery smashes. One could almost hear the shuttle swishing through the air as it befuddled the Bengaluru team. However, Bengaluru had a few tricks of its own under its sleeve. Sung-Hyun awed us all with his sizzling shots. Sikki Reddy and Ko Sung-Hyun made a great team and were in better sync as compared to Marin and Satwik. And that coordination showed well on the court as they lead the attack on both sets and won it – 11-9 and 11-7.

The first trump match of the day was between Bangalore’s Viktor Axelsen and Hyderabad’s B Sai Praneeth.

Praneeth seemed a little bit nervous and down on confidence on the court. He lost a lot of points to Viktor, due to shuttle going out of court or going straight into the net. And the crowd chanting, Viktor, Viktor, wasn’t helping calm his nerves either.

Viktor Axelsen truly proved his mettle on the court with strong serves and powerful smashes. He won both the sets comfortably, beating Praneeth, 11-6, 11-5, and claimed the bonus trump point for the Bengaluru Blasters.

He also won the crowd over, throwing 2 racquets and a bunch of other freebies, literally, up for grabs. The audience went wild and the roar didn’t die down for quite a while.

The Men’s Doubles match came up next with Bengaluru’s Ko Sung-Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong against Hyderabad’s Tan Boon Heong and Tan Wee Kiong.

This match was a crackling thriller, replete with remarkable rallies and shuttles whistling through the air. The Hyderabad team were bested by the Bengaluru Blasters in the first set 11-15.

However, the Hyderabad team came back with vengeance and wrestled out a win in the second set with 11-13. The audience was biting nails in anticipation after both teams had scored 11 each. Neither was willing to back down, and after some truly spectacular Badminton moments we had the winner. Hyderabad.

The third set was fiercely contested too, but the Hyderabad Hunters maintained the momentum and beat the Blasters 8-11, and won the match.

The most awaited match of the day was the trump match – Carolina Marin vs Ashwini Ponnappa.

Ashwini Ponnappa was the crowd’s favourite, being a Bengaluru-born. She was deft and quick on feet. However, she made a lot of mistakes which cost her dearly. Ashwini won the first set 11-9, with Carolina putting up a tough fight. However, in the second set, the match turned in Marin’s favour. One could visibly see the frustration Ashwini had due to her mistakes. She has great potential but needs to improve her game overall. Marin won the second set comfortably, 5-11.

The decider was the third set, where Ashwini fought valiantly, but due to numerous errors, was clinched by Carolina.

Though Bengaluru Blasters put up a good show, Hyderabad Hunters stole the game 3-4.

Watching the game live brings a different feel indeed. The energy that the crowd possesses, and the thrill of watching star players live is comparable.

Add some fun moments like people falling over each other to take selfies with the Tendulkar fan, PBL was a fantastic experience.

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