SPORT NEWS: Kidambi leads Bengaluru Raptors to finals

Kidambi Srikanth led from the front to steer Bengaluru Bulls into the final of the Premier Badminton League season 4, after overpowering Awadhe Warriors 4-2 in the 1st semifinal at Bengaluru’s Kanteerava Indoor Stadium.

Kidambi cheered on by a vociferous home crowd, breezed past Son Wan Ho 15-7, 15-10 to dash the hopes of Awadhe Warriors in a gripping semifinal. He picked up only one point for his win but brought the Raptors on level terms with the Warriors.

Earlier, another local hero B Sai Praneeth started Bengaluru Raptors’ charge by beating the Awadhe Warriors’ Dong Keun Lee. The Hyderabadi was on song, rattling the South Korean with a flurry of down the line smashes. He raced away to a 15-9, 15-4 victory to get the crowds on their feet. The Raptors pulled one back after a loss in their opening match.

The Raptors began the evening on the wrong foot, with the Bengaluru duo of Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith capitulating in the opening clash. They lost to Ashwini Ponappa and Mathias Christiansen 7-15, 10-15 in Awadhe’s Trump match to silence the crowds.

India’s doubles specialist Ashwini was in her elements as she ensured the Warriors started well with her decisive returns. They took charge soon to wrap up the match in two games to take a 2-0 lead in the tie.

The Kidambi- Wan Ho clash was a one-sided affair, with the Indian showcasing a range of shots while also defending well. Srikanth raced away in the first game and then toyed around with Korean, mixing his drop shots with perfection. The overall score of the tie was 2-2.

Next up was Raptors Trump match featuring Men’s Doubles pair Hendra Setiawan and Mohd Ahsan who edged out Yang Lee and Mathias Christiansen in straight games/ a 3 game affair to turn the tide in their favor. The first game was a thriller and saw the Indonesian pair winning by closest of the margins 15-14, whereas in the second game the Warriors surrendered without giving a fight and hence gifted the match 15-9 to the Raptors’ pair. The tie confirmed Raptors’ berth in the Finals at 4-2 in the Tie.

Defending PBL champions Hyderabad Hunters will be keen to extend their superb run when they take on Mumbai Rockets in the second semifinal here tomorrow.

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