PBL: Acers beat Hunters, win first match

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New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS) The home advantage was more than welcome for the Delhi Acers who earned their first victory of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) by beating the Hyderabad Hunters 4-1 at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here on Thursday.

After losing their opening two ties by the same margin of 3-4 to the Awadhe Warriors and Chennai Smashers, the Acers got their much required win to get things moving in the six-team tournament.

On the other hand, the Hunters lost their second tie of the event after having beaten the Bengaluru Top Guns in Mumbai on Sunday.

The hosts got off to a poor start on Thursday as the Acers’ P.C. Thulasi lost the opening women’s singles contest 12-15, 15-9, 13-15 to Hunters’ Supanida Katethong of Thailand.

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“I was down in the first set and realised that my mistakes from that point will cost the match to my team. A win in the opening match is always a huge boost,” Supanida said after giving the Hunters a 1-0 start.

However, the hosts’ Rajiv Ouseph came out with his top game to beat Hunters’ ace and reigning Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap 15-9, 15-10 in the first men’s singles match to level the tie at 1-all.

“I am delighted with this win as we all know how good Kashyap is. Our team lost the first match and with one more loss it would have been really tough for us. I am happy this win allowed us to level the scores,” Englishman Ouseph said.

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The Acers again went on the back foot as their mixed doubles pair of Akshay Dewalkar and Gabrielle Adcock lost to top combine of Jwala Gutta and Markis Kido 7-15, 8-15.

“This was an important match for both the teams because after this match we had our individual Trump Matches,” said Jwala.

Leading 2-1 and with the legendary Lee Chong Wei to play their Trump Match up next, the tie was more or less in the grasp of the Hunters. But Tommy Sugiarto of the Acers turned the tables on the two-time Olympic silver medallist, springing a surprise to beat him 9-15, 15-10, 15-14.

“It was an incredible game. I lost the first game and that proved to be a boon. It motivated me to up my game and go for the kill. I won his Trump Match which meant we bounced back into the tie,” said Sugiarto.

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This was Malaysian Chong Wei’s second consecutive loss in the tournament. He also went down earlier to Bengaluru Top Guns’ Kidambi Srikanth.

By losing the Trump Match, the Hunters were deducted a point while one point was added to the Acers’ score, making it 2-1 for the hosts.

It all boiled down to the final men’s doubles rubber which was a Trump Match for the hosts. And they did not disappoint as the experienced pair from Malaysia, Koo Keat Kien and Tan Boon Heong, beat the scratch combination of K. Nandgopal and Satvik Sai 15-7, 14-15, 15-13 to take the tie 4-1.

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