Gritty Srikanth seals spot in final

Indian beats Wan Ho; Prannoy bows out

Gritty Srikanth seals spot in final
K Srikanth was at his grittiest best as he shocked world No 1 Son Wan Ho for a place in the final but giant-killer HS Prannoy’s battle ended in agony at the $1,000,000 Indonesia Super Series Premier, here on Saturday.

Srikanth fought like a man possessed to outclass Son Wan Ho 21-15, 18-21, 24-22 in an energy-sapping men’s singles match that lasted an hour and 12 minutes.

After his stunning wins over Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei and Olympic gold-medallist Chen Long, expectations were high from Prannoy but the Indian suffered a heart-breaking 21 -17, 26-28, 18-21 defeat to Japanese Kazumasa Sakai.

Srikanth had a 2-4 head-to-head record against Son, having lost to the Korean four times in the last four meetings but all that didn’t matter as he survived a battle of attrition at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC).

World No 22 Srikanth will next face World No 47 Sakai in the final on Sunday.

This is the fourth Super Series final for Srikanth, who had reached the summit clash in Singapore in April and won the 2014 China Open and the 2015 India Open.

Precision was the key as Srikanth and Son battled on, playing some excruciating rallies during the three-game thriller.

Srikanth produced a compact net game and used his smashes to good effect against Son, who looked equally menacing with his never-say-die-attitude.

The duo were locked 3-3 initially but Srikanth slowly moved away to make it 11-6 with a backhand tap at the net.

Srikanth, however, succumbed to a series of unforced errors to allow Son claw back to 10-12. But a couple of smashes helped the Indian to extend his lead to 18-13. After that, Srikanth’s smash touched the net chord and went over as he moved to 19-13. Son netted one to give the Indian a game point and he sealed it after conceding a point.

In the second, Srikanth opened up a 4-2 lead before moving to 8-5 but Son managed to come back at 9-9 but he grabbed a slender 11-10 lead at interval.

Though he moved to 13-10, Son changed the course of the game after the break as he slowly drew parity and then roared back into contest when Srikanth hit the net to gift him the game.

In the decider, the duo battled tooth and nail right from the start, moving from 6-6 to 10-10. With Srikanth hitting out, Son grabbed a 11-10 lead at the break.

The duo moved neck-and-neck till 19-19.

Son then earned the match point when Srikanth’s back hand return got buried at the net. But the Korean failed to make it count and ended up hitting long.

Srikanth’s return also went haywire but Son too hit long as it became 22-21 in favour of the Indian. However, his smash found the net next as the score read 22-22.

Srikanth then produced a precise crosscourt smash and then returned an onrushing shot from Son to raise his arms in celebration.

Prannoy, on the other hand, bowed out after Sakai registered his second win over the Indian, following up after the victory at the 2013 edition.

In the first game, Prannoy was at his best as he teased  with clever shot selection and accurate smahes.

Though the Indian won the game, Sakai came back strong to win the second and push the tie of a decider.

In the final game, Prannoy had himself to blame as errors crept into his game eventually handing the Japanese the an easy win.

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