Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk produced a superb comeback against Ajay Jayaram in the deciding fifth rubber to help Chennai Smashers edge out Mumbai Rockets 4-3 in a thrilling final to clinch the Premier Badminton League season 2 title, in New Delhi, on Saturday.
Chennai and Mumbai won their respective Trump matches and with Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu seeing off Korea's Sung Ju Hyun, it came down to the two men's singles match to decide the fate of the tie.
Mumbai's HS Prannoy then edged out Chennai's Parupalli Kashyap to make it 3-3 but World No 11 Saensomboonsuk ensured that Chennai had the last laugh as he staved off a spirited challenge from Jayaram to secure the title.
Playing their Trump match, Chennai's British husband-wife pair of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock, the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist dished out a superlative game to surpass Mumbai combination of Nipitphon Puangpuapech and Nadiezda Zieba 11-9, 11-6 to grab two points.
Rio Olympics silver medallist Sindhu then outclassed World No. 3 and Dubai Super Series Final runners-up Hyun 11-8, 11-8 in a dominating display to make it 3-0 in favour of Chennai. It was her second win over Hyun in the tournament, having beaten her once in the league stage.
Mumbai put the onus on their men's doubles pair of Yong Dae Lee and Nipitphon Puangpuapech to bring them back into the contest and the duo didn’t disappoint as they notched up a 12-10, 11-6 win over Chris and Mads Pieler Kolding in their Trump match to narrow the margin to 2-3.
Prannoy then extended his unbeaten streak to seven matches in the tournament as he eked out a hard-fought 11-4, 8-11, 11-8 win over a fighting Kashyap in the first men’s singles to make it 3-3.
But Saensomboonsuk produced a brilliant fightback after being a game down to eke out a 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 win against Jayaram in the deciding rubber.
In the women's singles match, Sindhu kept hitting the shuttle at the back of court, not allowing Hyun to come near the net. The tactics worked as she led 2-0 but a series of unforced errors saw her lag 2-3. With Sindhu’s another shot going out, Hyun took a 4-2 lead. But the Indian came up with two superb cross court smashes to draw parity and then moved into a 6-4 lead after Hyun hit wide.
Momentum shifted after the break as Hyun erased the deficit after winning a marathon rally that consisted of 44 shots. Sindhu then produced a cross court return to catch her rival at forecourt and then dished out a smash which kissed the net chord.
The Indian finally moved into the game point when Hyun hit out. Another similar error by the Korean and Sindhu wrapped up the opening game. After the change of sides, Hyun had a slender 2-1 lead for a brief time before a wide shot and a judgment error at forecourt by the Korean helped Sindhu to make it 5-2.
However, Hyun once again leveled the score by pocketing three straight points with the help of a deceptive net return, a smash and a beautiful slice at Sindhu’s forehand. But the Indian once again came up with a towering smash to go into the break with 6-5 advantage.
After the interval, Sindhu smashed her way to keep marching ahead and reached the match point when Hyun hit out.
However the Korean saved two points before the Indian unleashed another smash to shut the door on the Korean.
The first men's singles was a high-intensity contest as Kashyap and Prannoy faced off with the duo trying to outpace each other with their attacking game. World No. 28 Prannoy, who has been unbeaten in the tournament so far, unleased a series of smashes right from the start to zoom to a 6-1 lead at the break.
The script didn't change much after the breather as the duo engaged in aggressive rallies. In the end it was Prannoy who easily walked away with the opening game.
In the second game, Kashyap changed his strategy and used his deceptive strokes to change the pace of the rallies. He dived, jumped and stretched himself to cover the court and produced his trademark smashes to move to a 6-3 lead at the break.
He continued to gather points despite Prannoy’s fightback and eventually roared back into contest when Prannoy faltered at the net.
It turned out to be a battle of nerve as the duo entered the decider. Prannoy moved a 3-0 lead early on but a couple of brutal smashes and Kashyap had narrowed it down to 2-3.
Prannoy won a point and what ensued next was a fast rally where Kashyap dived to return a shuttle and in the process seemed to have hurt his shoulder as he walked out of the court.
On resumption, Prannoy managed to enter the break with a 6-3 lead after a long rally. A series of unforced errors by Prannoy after the breather saw Kashyap narrow the gap to 6-7 but Prannoy managed to keep his nose ahead and sealed the match when Kashyap hit out.
In the deciding rubber, Jayaram entered the break with a 6-4 lead but Saensomboonsuk kept breathing down his neck as he narrowed the deficit to 9-10. But Jayaram came up with a sharp smash on his rival's serve to earn the bragging rights.
Saensomboonsuk came back strongly in the second game, moving into a 6-3 lead with a powerful smash. The Thai shuttler maintained his supremacy after the interval and roared back into contest with a smash.
In the third game, Saensomboonsuk once again opened up a 6-3 lead. The Indian sent the shuttle wide twice and then Saensomboonsuk came up with a sharp push at the back of the court to move to a 8-3 lead.
The Thailand shuttler finally produced a body smash to reach the match point and sealed the match when the Indian hit wide again.