Michael Van Gerwen has to dig deep for a point as Premier League gets under way

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Five-time winner Michael Van Gerwen had to dig deep for a point as the Unibet Premier League began without world champion Gerwyn Price.

Price had to withdraw after testing positive for Covid-19, with James Wade taking his place in the tournament at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

Three-time world champion Van Gerwen found himself trailing 6-5 to debutant Dimitri Van Den Bergh, with the Belgian throwing for the match.

However, Van Gerwen completed a 12-dart finish in the last leg to ensure four of the opening night’s five contests finished all square.

“You can never be happy with a point,” Van Gerwen told Sky Sports. “Overall I can’t be too unhappy with my game – I played OK I think.

“Of course there’s more in the tank and there’s more to come.

“I feel good and I want to do even more tomorrow. I always try to aim for the best and it’s not always possible.”

Wade almost made a perfect start after being elevated from standby, with Gary Anderson taking out 156 in the final leg to deny him victory in a 6-6 draw.

Peter Wright also had to settle for a 6-6 draw against newcomer Jonny Clayton.

The first four legs went against the throw in a high-quality contest before good finishing put Wright 5-3 up.

However, despite hitting all six of his throws at double, Wright was denied after throwing just seven with his opening set of darts in the 10th leg and failing to hold.

Wales’ Clayton missed a bullseye that would have given him a 161 checkout for a 6-5 lead but did hold throw in the 12th leg to claim a deserved point.

Rob Cross and Jose De Sousa also played out a draw, while Nathan Aspinall thrashed Glen Durrant 7-3 in the night’s opening contest to gain a modicum of revenge for his defeat to the same opponent in last year’s Premier League final.

Van Gerwen takes on Wright in the pick of Tuesday night’s games.

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