It will not be easy for the Beats when they cross swords with table-toppers Hyderabad Hotshots in Saina Nehwal's backyard. The Hostshots have been in supreme form with fifteen points from four ties. The contest between the two teams was a one-sided affair as the hosts, for whom it was an humongous task for winning the tie with a huge margin to storm into the last four stage, were completely outplayed and hardly gave any impression of bouncing back.
The saving grace, however, was the Indian ace shuttler Parupalli Kashyap, who gave a rousing start for the Beats by thrashing B Sai Praneeth 21-15, 21-11 to put his team 1-0 ahead of Smashers in the men's singles tie. After this loss, the Beats are placed at fifth place on the table with nine points from one win and three losses in four ties. They will next play Hotshots on August 27 in Hyderabad.
However, the 4-1 win by Samshers enlivened their hopes of an outside chance of sneaking into the semifinals, provided the hosts and Awadhe Warriors lose their next encounters very badly. They have now piped P V Sindhu-led Warriors and occupied the fourth place on the table with 13 points compared to 12 bagged by the former. They will play second-placed Pune Pistons, who are sitting pretty with 15 points.
Kashyap and Praneeth won their respective singles as both teams tied at 1-1 in the first two matches of the tie. Kashyap did not miss a chance to bring his team's campaign back on track by beating giant-killer Praneeth 21-15 21-11 to put his team 1-0 ahead of Smashers in the men's singles tie. However, the Beats Carolina Marin, who is tagged as the future star from European continent by chief coach U Vimal Kumar, brought disappointment for the fans as she lost the match 17-21, 21-15, 9-11 after coming from behind in the second game, and gave in to the dominating Nichaon Jindapon of Smashers in the deciding game.
Boon Hoeng Tan and Kien Keat Koo then kept the hopes alive for the Smashers with a 21-11, 11-21, 11-7 victory over Beats' Carsten Mogensen and Akshay Dewalkar in the men's doubles to give Smashers 2-1 lead in the tie. H S Pranoy of Smashers capitalised on the lead by tightening the noose against Beats' Aravind Bhat by winning the first game and then the decider before losing one to his opponent in the second.
His 21-18, 7-21, 11-8, victory guided the visitors to clinch the tie 3-1 at the end of the fourth game. Praneeth began the campaign for Smashers taking 7-6 lead over Kashyap in the first game. However, Kashyap fought back and grabbed 14-7 lead after the second break. The world number 14 played some delectable smashes across the court, dismantling the confidence of Praneeth, who had an advantage to capitalise after the first halt. Kashyap, who played three and one game in the league, kept breathing down the neck of Praneeth, who managed a lone point before the Hyderabad lad clinched the first game 21-15. Having bagged the first game, Kashyap did not lose the grip over his world number 37 opponent, and soon went up 7-2 in the second game.
Kashyap did not give much room for Praneeth to make a comeback and brought down the oppoent to his knees with down-the-line and bodyline smashes, sometines at a great speed of 251 per kilometers per hour. No match for such power-play, Praneeth conceded the match 21-15, 21-11 to give Beats a 1-0 lead in the tie. In the second match, Jindapon was more dominating initially as she took a 7-3 lead at the opening break in the first game. However, Marin fought her way back by taking 14-12 lead against Jindapon after the second break.
In the see-saw match that ensued, Jindapon outplayed her opponent Marin by defeating her 21-17 in the first game. In the second game of the match, Jindapon and Marin were tied at 10-10 at one stage but soon the Spanish girl stretched her lead to 19-15 and polished off the game comfortably 21-15.
Taking the tie to the decider, the World No. 19 Marin lost the plot in the third game losing the match 17-21, 21-15, 9-11. Though Tan and Koo started well by taking the first game 21-11 in the third match, Mogensen and Dewalkar got down to business and totally dominated the second game with aggressive play and confident game near the net. With 14 all at the second break, they did not let the Malaysian pair crawl back neck-and-neck into the game and outsmarted them 21-20. The decider was a cakewalk for Tan and Koo 7-1 lead at the first break. The Smashers' pair with some unstoppable smashes, galloped to victory 21-11, 20-21, 11-7. In the fourth match between Pranoy and Bhat, the later lost the first game 18-21 but turned the tables pocketing the second game 21-7, with a series of smashes which was good enough to outfox the Smashers shuttler. In the decider started as the first one as Pranoy managed to take an early lead 7-4 which he did extend to 9-7 and kept his composure to win the tie 3-1 at the stage for Smashers with his bodyline smashes. Mixed doubles pair of Gutta and V Diju further pulverized the hopes of Beats as they defeated Beats' pair of Mogensen and Marin 21-16, 15-21 and 11-9 in the fifth and final match, outwitting the hosts 4-1 in the tie.
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