Though Pune Pistons are playing on their home turf, they are not likely to defeat Banga Beats of Bangalore unless there is a miracle backing them today. Sport is of course full of stories of valour and courage and of underdogs taking on and beating the Goliaths. Here at the Balewadi Stadium though the odds are stocked against the hosts.
Pune’s star ladies singles player Juliane Schenk played a wonderful match against Saina Nehwal at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Mumbai recently. Though she lost the marathon three-set encounter, she stretched Saina to the limit.
Against Banga Beats, Juliane will love to play Chinese Taipei star Tai Tzu Ying. Juliane has beaten the World No 7 thrice of the four times they’ve met previously. However, Banga Beats won’t be playing Tai Tzu as they have an ace up their sleeve in Carolina Marin. The Spaniard stunned World Championships bronze winner PV Sindhu in Lucknow recently and has beaten Schenk two out of two times before.
World No 7 Nguyen Tien Minh is behind both Parupalli Kashyap and Hu Yun in head-to-head clashes losing four out of seven matches against each, and this is likely to be repeated when the Vietnamese star walks onto court today.
Saurabh Verma, the second choice singles player for the Pistons will also find it tough to eke out a win as he has not played against either of the Banga beats professionals on the international stage.
Pistons therefore, find themselves in a disadvantageous situation on their home turf as they are likely to lose all the three singles matches. The only clash of this tie where the Pistons have a distinct advantage, is the mixed doubles, where Ashwini Ponnappa should be able to continue her winning ways with partner Joachim Fischer Nielsen.
The two specialists make for a really strong team and may well emerge as the pair with the best record in the league. Banga Beats also hold a slight edge in the men;s doubles, with the scratch pair of Carsten Mogensen and Akshay Dewalkar taking on Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar — the veteran Indian combination are both on the wrong side of 30.
Dewalkar’s speed near the net and Mogensen’s steady defence could blunt anything the Pistons pair throw at them. The Banga Beats travels with a flock of some 300 supporters, all with their whistles, dholaks and nagadas. Miracles do happen and Pistons must pray for same. Else, they are staring at a 1-4 drubbing.
The writer is a former India player.