Acers, Rockets set for summit clash

Badminton PBL : Hosts Delhi fancied to bag title

Acers, Rockets set for summit clash

 The two-week journey of revamped Premier Badminton League will culminate with the title clash between Delhi Acers and Mumbai Rockets at the Siri Fort Sports Complex on Sunday.

The two unlikely finalists- without the top international stars of the likes of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Lee Chong Wei or Kidambi Srikanth- have put up confident performances to emerge as title contenders. Delhi Acers, acing their trump matches, overcame a slow start to top the table with 20 points. They beat Chennai Smashers 4-3 to enter the final.

Mumbai, on the other hand, shocked all and sundry by taking out Saina led Awadhe Warriors, 3-0 in the second semifinals on Friday. Mumbai’s Han Li defeated Saina in front of her home crowd at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad  to turn the tie in her team’s favour.

The two teams have met in the league stage at Bengaluru where Delhi outclassed Mumbai 5-0. Delhi would be the favourites, playing the final on their home turf.  They have shown tremendous fight to bounce back in the league phase. After losing their opening two ties, they conjured an irrepressible winning run in three ties and semifinals. It all started from home where they won back-to-back- matches.

The men’s singles trio of Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto, England’s Rajiv Ouseph and India’s Ajay Jayaram has won the Acers crucial matches. Sugiarto, especially, has been in great form to win all his five outings which included a come from behind triumph over great Chong Wei. He has been unbeatable in the trump matches so far.
Rockets have had blown hot and cold in the league by winning three and losing two ties before their sensational 3-0 win over Warriors. Vladimir Ivanov and Mathias Boe have been the stars for Mumbai. Indian players HS  Prannoy and RMV Gurusaidutt have given steady performances in men’ singles while Li would be confident following her win over Saina.

“Playing in the PBL has been a wonderful experience. The matches have been intense and very and close. It is a great opportunity to play against the best players in the world,” Prannoy said.

National chief coach Pulella Gopichand called the league a success. “Most matches in the PBL were very exciting. We were able to bring in a lot of Chinese players this year. I am seeing the success of the PBL this season and more people will vie for a place in the League next season,” he said.

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