Hyderabad, December 25: Experience was the buzzword at the Gachibowli stadium on Tuesday as Hyderabad Hunters registered their second win in the fourth edition of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League defeating Chennai Smashers despite the loss of PV Sindhu.
The win was sealed when Mark Caljouw upset Chennai Smashers' trump P Kashyap 15-11, 14-15, 15-13 in the fourth match to cement his team's position at the top of the standings.
The defending champions, who began their campaign with a clean sweep against newcomers Pune 7 Aces on the opening day in Mumbai, avoided slipping on the banana skin in the very first match, which was also their trump.
But the experienced combination of Kim Sa Rang and Bodin Isara summoned all their guile and experience to turn the tables on B Sumeeth Reddy and OR Chin Chung to win 13-15, 15-12, 15-10 and give their team two crucial points.
Having lost the opening game, Kim and Isara were trailing 4-10 in the second game and looked lost against the aggressive approach from the Chennai Smashers men's doubles pair. But it was the sheer experience of the South Korean-Thailand pair that allowed them to not just overcome the opponents but difficult court conditions with quick flat strokes to first force a decider and then wrap the match.
Lee Hyun Il, the 38-year-old veteran from South Korea, then gave a few lessons to point construction against Chong Wei Feng to win 15-11, 15-13.
The battle of the two left-handers saw quite a few rallies played from the back of the court and every time it felt like the Chennai Smashers shuttler was looking to make a comeback, the experienced South Korean turned things around.
The victory set up yet another opportunity for BWF World Tour Finals champion PV Sindhu to wrap up the tie by giving her team an unassailable lead but the 23-year-old just could not find the rhythm that saw her beat Carolina Marin in the first match.
Chennai Smashers icon player Sung Ji Hyun made the most of Sindhu's struggles with the conditions by concentrating on keeping the shuttle in play and force the world number three into making plethora unforced errors.
To her credit, Sindhu refused to give up despite chasing the match since she led 8-5 in the opening game. She simply lost momentum after that to lose the game 13-15. The Indian was trailing for the most part of the second game before taking the lead at 10-9 for the first time and forced the decider after winning the game on the deciding point.
She, however, again struggled to find her rhythm in the third and final game as Sung changed ends leading 8-3 and then wrapped up the match 15-13, 14-15, 15-7 to keep the Smashers alive. This was just the third loss for Sindhu in four editions of the Vodafone PBL.
But if Chennai was hoping to cash in on the change in moment, it was not to be as Caljouw who got the better of a fighting Kashyap to give the hosts a 4-0 lead.
The Dutchman looked like closing the match in straight games, attacking Kashyap's body with his booming smashes and also showing great awareness to adjust to the changing conditions on the court.
But Kashyap fought back from 4-8 deficit in the second game to force a decider.
The decider was a close fought affair with both players engaging in long rallies but it was Caljouw who had the last laugh, closing the match with one of his trademark smash.
Chennai Smashers vs Hyderabad Hunters
(MD)-Chin Chung Or/B.Sumeeth Reddy vs Bodin Isara/Sa Rang Kim:15-13; 12-15;10-15
(MS)-Wei Feng Chong vs Hyun Il Lee: 11-15;13-15
(WS)-Ji Hyun Sung vs P.V Sindhu: 15-13;14-15; 15-7
(MS)-Parupalli Kashyap vs Mark Caljouw-11-15; 15-14;13-15
(XD)-Chris Adcock/Gabriele Adcock vs Sa Rang Kim/Eom Hye Won