Delhi get past Chennai to book final berth

Badminton PBL : Koo-Tan pair, Jayaram fashion Acers' thrilling 4-3 victory over Smashers

Delhi get past Chennai to book final berth

 Table-toppers Delhi Acers quelled a spirited fightback from Chennai Smashers to storm into the final of the Premier Badminton League here on Thursday.

Egged on furiously by employees of the company that owns them, the Acers made sure their trip to the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium turned out to be a memorable one after registering a thrilling 4-3 win in an intensely-fought first semifinal.

Former World No 1 doubles combo of Koo Keat Kien and Tan Boon Heong were in their elements as they brushed aside a gritty Chris Adcock and Pranaav Chopra 15-10, 15-14 before Ajay Jayaram staged a superb rally to down the dangerous Sony Dwi Kuncoro 14-15, 15-10, 15-7 to put the Acers in the driver’s seat at 2-0.

Adcock, however, injected life into the Smashers’ campaign, teaming up with Pia Zebadiah to down his wife Gabrielle Adcock and Koo 15-9, 15-14 and ace singles player PV Sindhu then flattened PC Thulasi 15-6, 15-7 in quick time as Chennai took a 3-2 lead.

With the contest hanging in the balance, Tommy Sugiarto dished out a polished performance, defeating Brice Leverdez 15-11, 15-14 to seal Acers spot in Sunday’s final at New Delhi. They will play the winner of semifinal between Awadhe Warriors and Mumbai Rockets.

In the opening match Koo and Tan, who came out of retirement last year in a bid to make it to the Rio Olympics, put up a wonderful exhibition of badminton that has seen them win so many titles across the world. While Koo was simply superb at the net, controlling the affair with his deceptive shots and stunning returns, Tan sparkled from back of the court, catching Adcock and Chopra cold with his stinging smashes.

In the opening game, the Acers opened up a healthy 6-2 lead and in quick time extended it to 14-8. While the Smashers managed to save two game points, the Acers secured it on the third attempt.

In the second game, Koo and Tan took off from they had left, racing to a 5-0 lead. It was Koo who was at the forefront of it, producing some outstanding near court play that had both Adcock and Chopra clueless. Retrieving some stunning smashes directed at him, Koo effortlessly turned defence into attack that had both Adcock and Chopra scurrying for cover.

Chopra and Adcock, however, turned things around against the run of play. Increasing their tempo, they surprised Koo and Tan with their power and precise hitting to level things at 6-6. Thereafter, it was a neck-and-neck affair with both teams trying to outsmart the other.

Chopra and Adcock earned a game point when Tan hit wide but Koo pulled off an amazing return from a 360 kmph smash to level things at 15-15. Southpaw Tan then unleashed a powerful smash of his own to seal the tie for the Acers.

Results: Delhi Acers bt Chennai Smashers 4-3 (Koo Keat Kien/ Tan Boon Heong bt Chris Adcock/ Pranaav Chopra 15-10, 15-14; Ajay Jayaram bt Sony Dwi Kuncoro 14-15, 15-10, 15-7; Gabrielle Adcock/ Koo Keat Kien lt to Chris Adcock/ Pia Zebadiah 9-15, 14-15; PC Thulasi lt to PV Sindhu (Trump) 6-15, 7-15; Tommy Sugiarto (Trump) bt Brice Leverdez 15-11, 15-14).

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