Hyderabad: Hyderabad Hunters overcame a fighting Bengaluru Blasters 4-3 in a thrilling summit clash to claim their maiden title at the third Premier Badminton League (PBL) here tonight.
Mixed Doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Pia Bernadet put up a dominant display in the last match of the encounter to clinch the title and the winners’ prize purse for the Hunters.
Cheered on by a packed house and a vociferous team at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium, Satwik and Pia beat Kim Sa Rang (Korea) and N Sikki Reddy (India) 15-11, 15-12.
The tall Satwiksairaj unleashed an array of powerful strokes to set up a well-deserved victory for the home side.
The five-match duel turned out to be a pulsating affair with the Blasters’ World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen and the Hunters’ Olympic champion Carlina Marin winning their respective matches to make it 3-3 after the first four matches.
The Hunters began on the back foot, with their men’s doubles pair of Markis Kido and Yoo Yeon Seong failing to get into their groove and losing the first point.
They found the Blasters’ Mathias Boe and Kim Sa Rang too hot to handle and gave in 0-2 without much of a fight. The stout Kido, who had controlled the game from the back of the court, just couldn’t make his powerful smashes work.
It didn’t help that his understanding of his partner Yoo Yeon was not top notch, allowing their opponents to exploit vast open spaces in the court.
The Hunters came back into the tie strongly, with their Trump player Lee Hyun Il coming up with a near immaculate game. The Korean was calm personified, dictating the pace and tone of the match to beat Subhanker Dey 2-0.
Lee Hyun, a southpaw, defended brilliantly, receiving everything that Subhanker threw at him. He kept the rallies going long until he found the perfect shot to finish off the point.
He shot away to a 4-2 and 8-5 lead even as Subhanker was trying to figure him out. Lee Hyun rode on the momentum to take the opening game 15-7.
The Korean fell behind at the start of the game, making a few unforced errors. He, however, fought back from 0-2 and 1-4 down to jump into the lead at 6-4.