It was Sameer Verma and Anders Antonsen’s hard-fought victories in the men’s singles match that gave Mumbai Rockets an indomitable 4-2 lead after four matches. Pia Bernadeth’s and Kim Gi Jung’s win playing against Marcus Christiansen and Ashwini Ponnappa in the mixed doubles match proved to be the cherry on top of the cake, sealing the tie at 5-2.
Mumbai had fielded Shreyanshi Pardeshi in the opening match of the evening, a women’s singles, against a superiorly ranked Beiwen Zhang and the match did not have any surprises. The USA-based shuttler is in hot form of late, having recently defeated PV Sindhu.
She easily swatted everything that came in her range and won the contest in straight games. Mumbai then fielded the men’s doubles pair of Kim Gi Sung & Lee Yong Dae in their Trump Match points. The lethal Korean pair hammered the Taipei-India duo of Yang Lee and M.R. Arjun into submission.
After both the teams won their respective Trump matches, the tie was locked at 2-2 and the stage set for an interesting showdown. However, what followed was a fairly one-sided contest.
Anders Antonsen, who is widely regarded as the emerging face of Danish badminton, lost the first match against a defensive-minded Korean rival in Son Wan Ho. The former European junior champion seemed to wake up midway in the second and eventually clinched the match to force a thrilling decider.
Awadhe Warriors’ Son started the third game sharply. However, it was his errors that let the Korean down towards the end. Antonsen was aware enough to take advantage of his opponents gracious mistakes. He put an end to the proceedings with a service return into the backcourt which went soaring over and beyond the Son Wan’s reach.
If Awadhe had to scrap anything from the match, it was in the fourth match. Lee Dong Keun indeed played with the same intent, giving Mumbai’s highly-ranked Sameer Verma a run for the money. Keun covered the court with silky smooth ease and often sent his Indian opponent rushing towards the corners. In spite of losing the first game, he went all-guns blazing in the second tie the contest.
The third match saw the two shuttlers going toe to toe, knowing very well that it would be the ultimate decider of the game. After lengthy exchange of rallies, some very intricate play at the net and fierce smashes from different angles it was the Indian who penultimately emerged as the victorious of the two at 15-11, thus handing Mumbai the Tie and the top spot in the process.
— PBL India (@PBLIndiaLive) January 1, 2019
Mumbai Rockets 5-2 Awadhe Warriors
Shreyanshi Pardeshi vs Beiwen Zhang (Trump Match) | 10-15, 10-15
Kim Gi Jung – Lee Yong Dae (Trump Match) vs Yang Lee – M R Arjun | 15-7, 15-9
Anders Antonsen vs Son Wan Ho | 6-15, 15-11, 15-14
Sameer Verma vs Lee Dong Keun | 14-11, 8-15, 15-11
Kim Gi Jung – Pia Bernadeth vs Marcus Christiansen – Ashwini Ponnappa | 15-10, 7-15, 15-13.