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Bengaluru Raptors beat Mumbai Rockets to win their first title at Vodafone PBL4

Srikanth finishes season unbeaten

Prakash Padukone, Gopichand, BAI president attended the final

A year after losing a narrow final to the Hyderabad Hunters, Bengaluru Raptors edged the Mumbai Rockets 4-3 to win their first title at the Vodafone Premier Badminton League Season 4 at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, here on Sunday. Thanks to the win, the Raptors were richer by INR 3 crores and the Mumbai team got INR 1.5 crores as the runners-up.

With BAI president sBiswa Sarma and badminton legend Prakash Padukone and Indian National Coach, Pullela Gopichand in attendance, Bengaluru skipper Srikanth gave a vital men’s singles win to his team before the doubles pair of Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan sealed the win in front of a rapturous home crowd.

World No. 18 Anders Antonsen lost narrowly to the Bengaluru skipper Srikanth when the two faced off in that battle at the beginning of this week. Any hope of a turnaround was dashed by a superb Srikanth who grabbed a 15-7, 15-10 victory.

The Bengaluru talisman rode on his smashes to open up a 5-1 lead and extended it to 10-4 in a completely one-sided display. Antonsen used his tight spinning net game to trouble Srikanth in the first half of the second game and made it 5-5. But that was all he could do against a determined Srikanth who went up to 12-9 and closed out the match for his eighth win on the trot.

Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan showed that age is just a number. With the entire stadium cheering vociferously for the Raptors pair, the former world champions never put their foot wrong and finished off a 15-13, 15-10 win.

The World No. 9 pair’s reflexes were too much for Mumbai’s Lee Yong Dae and Kim GI Jung and it was only a matter of time before the men in yellow grabbed the much-coveted win.

World No. 59 Vu Thi Trang had the responsibility of playing the Trump match for Bengaluru against Mumbai’s 202nd ranked Shreyanshi Pardeshi and she thoroughly lived up to the expectations, notching up a 15-8, 15-9 win.

Overcoming a slow start, she took five consecutive points to go up to 8-6 and effortlessly closed out the opener. Pardeshi gave a much better account of herself in the second game, remaining toe-to-toe with her rival until 8-8.

The Vietnamese banked on her tremendous defensive skills to come out on top of a 22-shot rally and that was all she needed to slam shut whatever little chances the young Indian had. She pocketed six of the next seven points to complete the triumph.

Earlier, Mumbai Trump Pia Zebadiah and Kim Gi Jung made it a fabulous start for Mumbai with a 15-8, 15-14 win. The two ensured that their attack was always on point and made life difficult for the Raptors’ Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith.

World No. 12 Sameer Verma bounced back from a poor start to avenge his league stage defeat to Bengaluru’s Sai Praneeth. Sai kept attacking the forehand wing of Sameeer to draw out errors from his compatriot to take the first game.

The two remained on par till 13-13 in a riveting second game until the gritty Mumbai ace set up a decider where he carved out a 7-15, 15-12, 15-3 win.

While the total prize money for this season was INR 6 crores. The teams which finished in the third and fourth places -- Hyderabad Hunters and Awadhe Warriors - were awarded INR 75 lakhs each.

Award Winners:

Best Comeback of the Tie - Sameer Verma

Attacking Player of the Tie - Kidambi Srikanth

Indian Oil Indian Player of the Tie - Kidambi Srikanth

Smartest Player of the Tie - Sameer Verma

Attacking Player of the League - Mathias Christiansen

Emerging Player of the League - Anders Antonsen

Indian Oil Indian Player of the League - Sameer Verma

Vodafone Smartest Player of the League - Kidambi Srikanth

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