Fighters storm into semis

Challengers seal last-four spot with narrow win over Warriors

Flypower Warriors’ Rameshwar Mahapatra plays a backhand return during his  win over HB Challengers’ Phalgun BS in the KBL on Sunday. DH PHOTO

The real-estate firm, who was coasting against Team Cane Boutique lost their track at one stage, recovered in fine style, scoring a 3-2 win in front of a packed house at the KBA courts. Another title favourite HB Challengers, who nearly sealed their semifinal spot on Saturday, confirmed their last-four ticket with a battling 3-2 win over Flypower Warriors.

Challengers thus completed their seven-team league assignments on top with 10 points (five wins and a loss). Aratt stay put at second with eight points from five matches, while Cane Boutique kept their semis hopes alive with six points from five matches. Warriors and White Peacock lie at fourth with four points each from five matches.

Kamaldeep, who was entrusted with the task of opening proceedings for the Fighters despite not having a won a match in five attempts in this tournament, produced a composed display against Sahil Sipani of Cane Boutique to notch up his first win of the tournament. Sipani won 21-10, 21-14.

Talented Jacqueline maintained her six-match unbeaten streak with a thumping 21-13, 21-13 victory over the left-handed Mahima Agwarwal to give the Fighters a 2-0 lead. Staring down the barrel, mixed-doubles combine of Vineeth Manuel and Harshitha then pulled one back for Cane Boutique, cashing in on star shuttler Ashwini Ponnappa’s absence in Fighters’ ranks. They scored an effortless 21-10, 21-17 win.

Tension in the Fighters camp grew when Castelino lost the opening game to Mohith Kamat, who raised visions of an unlikely comeback for Cane Boutique.

Edge-of-the-seat thriller

However, the gutsy Castelino rectified his errors quickly, unleashing a superb combination of attacking and defensive badminton to outlast Kamat 12-21, 21-8, 21-18 in an edge-of-the-seat thriller to seal a fantastic win for Fighters.

The men’s doubles pair of Sobin Soman and Sunil Gibson later defeated Govind MK/ Harshit Aggarwal 21-8, 18-21, 21-13 to score a consolation win for Cane Boutique.
Challengers, who were expected to ease past Warriors, had only themselves to blame for the unnecessary tension. Suran RN put them 1-0 up after easing past Rajas Jawalkar 21-8, 21-16 before Sindhu Bharadwaj levelled the proceedings for Warriors with a gritty 21-19, 21-18 win over Arsheen Syeda Saadath. Abhijeet Naimpally and Sangeetha Mari restored the advantage for the Challengers with a three-gamer victory over Dhruv Shanbag and Apeksha Nayak before Rameshwar Mahapatra shocked Phalgun BS.

However, the men’s doubles pair of Guruprasad D and Sanjeeth S overcame Darshan Kulkarni-Krishna SDS in the final match of the day to seal a 3-2 win for Challengers.

Results: Aratt Fighters bt Team Cane Boutique 3-2 (Kamaldeep Singh bt Sahil Sipani 21-10, 21-14; Jacqueline Rose Kunnath bt Mahima Agarwal 21-13, 21-13; Neville Panthaki N/ Anusha GM lt to Vineeth Manuel/ Harshita P 10-21, 21-17; Rohan Castelino bt Mohit Kamat 18-21, 21-8, 21-18; Govind MK/ Harshit Aggarwal lt to Sobin Soman 8-21, 21-18, 13-21).

HB Challengers bt Flypower Warriors 3-2 (Suraj RN bt Rajas Jawalkar 21-8, 21-16; Arsheen Syeda Saadath lt to Sindhu Bharadwaj 19-21, 18-21; Abhijeet Naimpally/ Sangeetha Mari bt Dhruv Shanbag/ Apeksha Nayak 14-21, 22-20, 21-17; Phalgun BS lt to Rameshwar Mahapatra 20-22, 21-14, 14-21; Guruprasad D/ Sanjeeth S bt Darshan Kulkarni/ Krishna SDS 21-14, 12-21, 21-17).

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