Premier Badminton League final match highlights:
- Bengaluru Raptors defeated Mumbai Rockets 4-3 in the final of PBL 2018-19
- Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan’s men’s doubles victory over the pair of Kim Gi Jung and Lee Yong Dae decided the tie in the Raptors favour
- Mumbai Rockets had defeated Hyderabad Hunters in a dominant 4-2 win in the second semi-final of the tournament to reach the final for the third time
- Earlier, table toppers Awadhe Warriors had to face defeat in a closely contested 1st semi-final that had seen them exit the tournament with a 2-4 defeat against Bengaluru Raptors
Bengaluru Raptors just managed to edge past Mumbai Rockets in the eagerly awaited final of the Premier Badminton League 2018-19 by a margin for 4-3 to lift the title after having being defeated in the final last year by the Hyderabad Hunters. In what was an edge of the seat summit clash, the Rockets were unlucky to finish as the silver medallists for the third time after their men’s doubles pair of Kim Gi Jung and Lee Yong Dae failed to see out Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan. The win saw the Raptors win Rs.3 crore while the Rockets took home Rs.1.5 crore as the consolation prize.
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It was an exhibition match that perfectly rounded up the high standards of badminton set by teams and shuttlers throughout the entirety of this edition of the PBL. There were some scintillating and flawless moments of badminton, fine cliff-hangers of matches and extremely tight and fiercely competed matches in a final that went right down to the decider.
The clash had begun with Mumbai staring off the tie in perfect fashion with their doubles pairing off Pia Zebadiah and Kim Gi Jung winning 15-8, 15-14 against the Raptors’ Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith.
However, the Raptors took on time in restoring parity in the match with Kidambi Srikanth edging past Antonsen with ease. The tone for the match was set in the opening exchanges itself with Srikanth taking a 5-1 lead in the first set before eventually going onto winning a completely one-sided opener 15-7. Despite Antonsen using a net game in the second to make it a much closer affair at 5-5, he failed to get past the line, faltering at the last step to hand over the set 15-10 to his opponent.
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World No. 59 Vu Thi Trang took the lead for the Raptors in a topsy-turvy final. The women’s singles clash of the night contested between Trang and Pardeshi, with Trang overcoming a sluggish start to rake up five consecutive points after being 3-6 down in the first set. That was all she needed to ensure to win the first 15-8 before contesting in a neck to neck second set.
Pardeshi was level at 8-8 but a 22 shot point, one which ended in Trang’s favour turned out to be the deciding factor. Trang was all over Pardeshi following that winner, winning the final 7 points 7-1 to wipe her counterpart off the court 15-9.
The Rockets were quick to hit back though as they looked resolute to finally get their hands around the trophy. The longest match of the final, one that was stretched over three sets saw Sameer Verma oversee Sai Praneeth 7-15, 15-12, 15-3.
The match didn’t start as the Rockets would have fathomed with Sameer’s forehand weakness pegging him back and seeing him lose the first 7-15. The second was a much more riveting affair with both players sharing points to take the set into an enthralling finish at 12-12. Drained and giving nothing away to each other, it was finally Sameer who made the first inroad, taking the crucial lead at 13-12, one he went onto converting into a 15-12 win.
Down and out after the marathon second set, Praneeth was no match to Sameer who needed no time in dispatching a clearly weakened opponent. Praneeth showed no decisiveness or will to fight, giving up to go down in embarrassing style 3-15.
With the scores level at 2-2, all eyes turned to the men’s doubles match that would ascertain which of the two sides would earn the right to call themselves champions after a final which had entertained and enthralled for each of its minutes.
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The tie ended in Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan’s favour with the pair defeating Mumbai’s Lee Yong Dae and Kim GI Jung for a 15-13, 15-10 win. Unlucky to have ended up as losers again, a thought should be spared to Mumbai Rockets who played some flawless badminton this tournament, defeating the best of teams on their way to the prestigious final. Although they’ll be left ruing this premier badminton league final defeat and picking over the pieces, come December they’ll be back stronger and hungrier and as firm title contenders.