PBL: Bengaluru still looking for their first tie win
New Delhi: Three ties, three losses. It would be hard for a team that has the likes of Kidambi Srikanth, Sameer Verma, Joachim Fischer Nielsen, Ashwini Ponnappa and the Malaysian doubles duo of Lim Khim Wah and How Hoon Thien to digest such a set of results.
Kidambi Srikanth. Pic/AFP
But that is the uncomfortable situation that Bengaluru Topguns find themselves in, on the eve of their Premier Badminton League (PBL) clash against Delhi Acers in the national capital, the Acers' home turf.
Their 1-4 defeat at the hands of Lucknow's Awadhe Warriors on Wednesday night may look dreadful on paper, but the scoreline does not reveal just how close Bengaluru came to victory by the end of the third match itself.
Having won the mixed doubles and the first men's singles, the Topguns needed only their marquee player and trump card Kidambi Srikanth to fire against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk to go ahead by an unbeatable 4-0 margin. But the left-handed Thai produced a masterly performance to muffle Srikanth's attack, and hand the 22 year old world no.9 his first defeat in three matches in this tournament.
Srikanth and Sameer Varma will have to be at their very best if they hope to lower the colours of Ajay Jayaram and Tommy Sugiarto, who have both appeared in fine fettle in the matches they have played thus far.
Jayaram beat the redoubtable Indonesian Simon Santoso, while Sugiarto was untroubled against Frenchman Brice Leverdez, and had earlier delivered the knockout punch to Tanongsak when Delhi had clashed with Lucknow.
China's 22 year old Suo Di, who has impressed in all three of her outings thus far, not excluding a three-game loss to Saina Nehwal, ought to have matters her own way against the latter's erstwhile training partner at the Gopichand Academy, P C Thulasi, and is likely to be nominated as Bengaluru's trump. It would be a risk worth taking.
Akshay Dewalkar and Gabrielle Adcock may not have matters their own way if Joachim Fischer Nielsen returns to partner Ashwini Ponnappa in place of Robert Blair or Lim Khim Wah, but would still be favoured to deliver Delhi a crucial point.
The men's doubles would be a joust between two set, regular Malaysian combinations, who shockingly have not had the level of success expected of them in this competition. Both Lim Khim Wah-How Hoon Thien and Koo Keat Kien-Tan Boon Heong are winless after five outings between them, but one of these pairs will finally have a victory in the kitty by the time the Bengaluru-Delhi tie ends.