Rockets too good for Hunters

Rockets too good for Hunters

Sameer Verma of Mumbai Rockets en route to his win over Mark Caljouw of Hyderabad Hunters in the Premier Badminton League. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Mumbai Rockets fired in unison, outclassing defending champions Hyderabad Hunters 4-2 to march into the final of the Premier Badminton League Season 4 here on Saturday.

Playing in front of a huge crowd at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Kim Jung Gi and Lee Dae Yong kick-started Rockets’ march by edging out Bodin Isara and Kim Sa Rang 15-14, 15-12 in a thrilling opening affair.

Singles specialist Sameer Verma, playing the Trump match, then dished out an authoritative performance against Mark Caljouw, downing the Dutch shuttler 15-12, 15-7 to hand Rockets a commanding 3-0 lead.

Staring down the barrel and needing to win all the three remaining games, the Hunters got a lifeline when PV Sindhu, given a raucous reception by the Bengaluru crowd, easily swatted aside the diminutive Shreyanshi Pardeshi 15-6, 15-5.

Anders Antonsen, the ever-smiling Dutchman, however ensured Rockets would not face any anxious moments by hammering Lee Hyun Il 15-13, 15-6 to send his team-mates screaming in delight. In the final on Sunday, which is expected to be a cracker, Rockets will take on Bengaluru Raptors.

The first game between Antonsen and Lee was intensely fought with both players trading blows although the former managed to stay marginally ahead of the crunch battle. Both kept going at each other till the end of the first game as the crowd lapped up every bit of the feisty fight. Antonsen then held his nerve towards the closing phases to seize the opening game.

The efforts of the first game seemed to knock the stuffing out of Lee in the second as the South Korean littered the court with several unforced errors. Antonsen, just 21 but showing wonderful calmness, cashed in Lee’s waywardness by belting out some gorgeous winners of his own.

Lee, in a desperate attempt to push the contest into the third game, tried hard during the closing phases of the second game by trying to be offensive. But Antonsen shut the door on Lee to power Rockets into the final.

Results: Mumbai Rockets bt Hyderabad Hunters 4-2 (Kim Jung Gi/ Lee Dae Yong bt Bodin Isara/Kim Sa Rang 15-14, 15-12; Sameer Verma (T) bt Mark Caljouw 15-12, 15-7; Shreyanshi Pardeshi lt to P V Sindhu (T) 6-15, 5-15; Anders Antonsen bt Lee Hyun Il 15-13, 15-6).