Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin and national champion Sameer Verma notched up contrasting victories to guide Hyderabad Hunters to the semi-finals of Premier Badminton League season 2 with a 5-2 win over Delhi Acers in an exciting contest here on Thursday.
Saina Nehwal’s Awadhe Warriors were the first to qualify for the knockout stage and Chennai Smashers and Mumbai Rockets also had joined them in the semi-finals but the door was still open for Hyderabad and they grabbed the last spot after toppling Bengaluru Blasters on Thursday.
Needing three points to earn a place at the semi-finals, the Hyderabad team was led by Sameer, mixed doubles pair of Chau Wah Hoi and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and two-time world champion Marin, who took them home after winning their respective matches.
In the semi-finals, it will be a mouth-watering contest when Saina’s Awadhe Warriors will fight against PV Sindhu’s Chennai Smashers while Hyderabad will face off Mumbai Rockets in a double header at the Siri Fort Stadium here on Friday.
Starting the proceedings, Sameer fought back from a game down to snuff aside the challenge thrown by young Siril Verma, a silver medallist at 2015 World Junior championship, 8-11, 11-3, 11-2 in the opening match.
Hong Kong’s Chau Wah and India’s Satwiksairaj then dished out a superlative performance to outclass the famed pair of Jwala Gutta and Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov 11-3, 11-4 in mixed doubles to make it 2-0 in favour of Hyderabad Hunters.
China Open champion and World No. 2 Jan O Jorgensen then brought Delhi back into the contest with a dominating 11-5, 11-7 win over 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Rajiv Ouseph of England in their Trump Match to level the score 2-2.
European champion and 2015 All England winner Marin then took the court in Hyderabad’s Trump Match amid huge cheers and sealed the match for her team with a hard-fought 15-14, 11-4 victory over World No 16 Thai Nitchaon Jindapol.
In the inconsequential fifth rubber, Boon Heong Tan and Wee Kiong Tan then defeated Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov 11-9, 13-11 to complete the proceedings.
In an edge-of-the-seat contest, Jindapol showed tremendous grit as she matched Marin stroke by stroke but lost the game eventually to the Rio Olympic champion.
Earlier, it was an exciting opener as Sameer and young Siril took the court and engaged in a fierce rally.