Topguns have tough fight at their hands

Bengaluru side needs full points against Chennai today

Topguns have tough fight at their hands
With their semifinal hopes hanging by the thinnest of threads, Bengaluru Topguns will have to produce something special when they take on Chennai Smashers in the final group game of the Premier Badminton League here on Wednesday.

With Bengaluru set to host the final day of league matches as well as the first semifinal on Thursday, Topguns would have hoped to be in a better position than being rooted to the bottom of the league standings.

With just eight points from four completed matches -- here points are awarded individual match-wise -- the picture appears very bleak for Topguns but a glimmer of hope exists however, provided they garner the maximum six points against the Smashers (13 points, third place) at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium.

The Topguns will also learn of the task at their hands even before they take court as the already qualified Delhi Acers (15) take on Mumbai Rockets (13) in the day’s opening match (2.30 pm). Even if the Rockets garner one point they will assure themselves of a place in the knockouts, leaving the Topguns with a mighty challenge.

By the looks of it, Topguns will have to win all their matches and acquire the full quota of six points that will power them to 14 points. Anything less than that would see them pack their bags which would act as a dampener for the home fans.

“We have 8 points but we are looking at (the game against Chennai Smashers) very positively,” said a confident-looking coach Arvind Bhat. “In fact, had we won just one Trump match from the completed ties so far, we would be sitting on 11 points. We would have been in a comfortable position to make it to the semifinals. We just hope to do well against Chennai. One match in every tie has cost us.

“By the time our game starts, we would know what we need to do to qualify for the semifinals. We need to win at least four out of the five matches, including both the Trump games. Our team is geared up for the fight tomorrow. We are playing at home and I’m sure the crowd support will be a big boost for us.”

The task is easier said than done for the Topguns. Yet to register an outright win in the competition, the Topguns have struggled for consistency. If the singles players do well, the doubles players fail to back them up and vice-versa.

Against the Smashers, Anand Pawar or Sameer Verma will have to be at the top of their game while captain Kidambi Srikanth needs to win his singles encounter. The talented Suo Di, who pushed Saina Nehwal to three games, will most likely take on PV Sindhu and if she can cause an upset, it would provide Topguns a major boost for the two doubles encounters.

Ashwini Ponnappa will mostly pair up with Jochim Fisher Nielsen for the mixed doubles battle while it remains to be seen what combination Bhat fields for the men’s doubles.

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