Bengaluru Blasters open PBL-3 campaign on Viktor-ious note

File Photo: Viktor Axelsen
IANS|29-Dec-2017 11:53

New Delhi, Dec 28 : Reigning world champion Viktor Axelsen helped Bengaluru Blasters kickstart their Premier Badminton League (PBL) Season-3 campaign with a 5-2 win over Delhi Dashers at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here on Thursday.

Trusted with the trump match, the World No.1 Axelsen hardly broke a sweat to thrash Delhi's World No.22 Tian Houwei 15-11, 15-11 in straight games and give the visitors an unassailable 4-2 lead after both the sides were locked at 2-2 till the third match of the evening.

Playing their first match of the season, Bengaluru gained an early 1-0 lead with the mixed doubles duo of N. Sikki Reddy and South Korean Kim Sa Rang winning the opener against Vladimir Ivanov and Ashwini Ponnappa 15-10, 12-15, 15-11.

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Bengaluru then doubled their lead after World No.45 Malaysian Chong Wei Feng upset World No.15 Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki Vincent 10-15, 15-13, 15-8 in the men's singles tie before World No.6 Sung Ji-Hyun helped Delhi draw level by winning the trump match against Scotland's Kirsty Gilmour 15-10, 8-15, 15-5.

But the turning point in the contest came after the second men's singles tie between Axelsen and Houwei.

Fresh from his title defence at the season-ending Dubai Superseries Finals,the Odonese-born shuttler cruised to a 8-6 lead at the break in the opening game before comfortably pocketing it 15-11.

Axelson, who won two Superseries titles at India and China before finishing runner-up at the China Open, continued his dominance in the second game against Tian to race to a 8-4 lead first before sealing it in his favour.

Earlier, Bengaluru gained the early momentum with Sikki and Kim prevailing in the opening mixed doubles match.

The Delhi duo of Ashwini and Ivanov started well taking a 8-6 lead at the break in the opening game before the Bengaluru combo came from behind to win it handsomely.

In the second game, Ashwini and her Russian partner Ivanov upped the ante despite trailing 7-8 at the break but came back strongly to take the match to the decider.

Sikki and Kim, however cruised to a 4-1 lead early on in the final game before racing to 8-5 at the breather. Coming back, the Bengaluru pair did not allow any freebies to the home duo and went on to clinch the affair comfortably.

Bengaluru then made it 2-0 in their favour after their Malaysian import Feng upset World No.15 Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki Vincent 10-15, 15-13, 15-8 in the men's singles tie.

Trailing 0-2, Delhi had their hopes pinned on World No.6 Sung Ji-Hyun in their trump match and the South Korean responded in style by beating Scottish Kirsty 15-10, 8-15, 15-5 in the women's singles encounter.

The first game tilted both ways with the 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist taking a slender 8-7 lead at the breather before the South Korean Sung brought Delhi back strongly.

World No.16 Kirsty, however bounced back in the second breezing with a 8-4 lead and went on to stretch it further to 13-6 before taking the tie to the decider.

The final game witnessed a complete turnaround for the home side, with the Indonesia Open runner-up cruising with a 8-3 lead at the break before extending it further to 11-3 and eventually making it 15-5 to restore parity for the hosts.

Bengaluru then made it 5-2 after the men's doubles pair of Mathias Boe and Kim Sa Rang beat Russian pair of Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov 15-9, 15-12 in straight games in the inconsequential fifth and final match of the evening.

On Friday, Calorina Marin-led Hyderabad Hunters will face Ahmedabad Smash Masters in the third match of the Delhi leg of the league.