Pune, December 31: Mumbai Rockets ushered the new year in style as Sameer Verma and Anders Antonsen combined to help their side beat the Awadhe Warriors at the Vodafone Premier Badminton League Season 4 in Balewadi, here on Monday.
The World No. 18 Antonsen stunned the former World No. 1 Son Wan Ho to give the crucial lead to Mumbai after the two were tied 2-2 following the respective Trump wins of the two teams. BWF World Tour Finals semi-finalist Sameer Verma then completed the job for the two-time runners-up with a three-game victory over Lee Dong Keun.
The biggest talking point of the day was the coming-of-performance by the 21-year-old Antonsen. The former World No. 1 had the upper hand in the initial stages. Showing some impressive footwork, he managed to repeatedly draw errors to race ahead to 11-5 before wrapping up the opener 15-6.
Refusing to relent after that fine start, the Hong Kong Open champion ruthlessly kept attacking the Antonsen forehand wing to hit winners. However, this time his 4-3 lead was overturned by a resilient Antonsen who upped the ante to go up to 8-5 in a stunning turnaround.
Son fought back valiantly to make it an even affair at 8-8 only to see a spirited Antonsen take the game 15-11.
The decider turned out to be one scintillating affair where nothing could separate the two. In a highly exciting finish to the match, a charged up Antonsen kept coming back every time Son got a point before he sneaked past the Korean to take the 6-15, 15-11, 15-14 win.
World No. 12 Sameer Verma kept firing on all cylinders to make a fabulous start to his match against Awadhe's Lee Dong Keun. The match, however, had a different complexion in the second game when the Malaysian started injecting pace and power into his shots to trouble Sameer.
A stunned Verma conceded the second game to build a 4-2 lead in the decider. The momentum kept oscillating between the two until 9-9 when Sameer found a wondrous down-the-line smash.
Buoyed up by that winner, Sameer kept adding points steadily to take the 15-11, 8-15, 15-11 win.
Earlier, Awadhe Trump Beiwen Zhang started off the tie on a confident note, looking every bit the World No. 10 shuttler that she is. The India Open champion was coming off a strong win over PV Sindhu in her earlier assignment and she simply continued from there.
Controlling the shuttle beautifully, Zhang kept the young World No. 202 Shreyanshi Pardeshi on the move. Opening up the court smartly she banked on her precise shuttle placement and great netplay to dash all hopes of the youngster and record a commanding 15-10, 15-10 win.
Mumbai’s Trump men’s doubles pair of Lee Yong Dae and Kim Gi Jung then brought back their side into contention with a strong 15-7, 15-9 win over Awadhe’s Yang Lee and Season 4 debutant MR Arjun. The Mumbai duo had lost their last match but rebounded in style in this one.
Awadhe Warriors vs Mumbai Rockets
(WS): B.Zhang (T) bt S. Pardeshi: 15-10; 15-10
(MD): Y.Lee/Arjun MR lost L.Y.Dae/K.G.Jung (T): 7-15; 9-15
(MS1) S.W.Ho lost A.Antonsen: 15-6; 11-15; 14-15
(MS2) L.D.Keun vs S.Verma: 11-15; 15-8; 11-15
(XD) M.Christansen/A.Ponnappa vs K.G.Jung/P.Z. Bernadeth