Flying a kite on Independence Day seems to be a thing of the past. This year the Indian Badminton League (IBL) clash between Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu yesterday garnered all the attention at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
While the footfall on the inaugural day of the IBL might have worried the organisers, all that was put to rest as soon as Saina and Sindhu walked onto the court yesterday for what was tipped as the Independence Day clash.
Sindhu, 18, recently won the World Championship bronze, the third instance for India, while for 23-year-old Saina, it has been a year since winning the Olympic bronze in London.
Saina stamped her class in her first competitive clash against Sindhu winning 21-19, 21-8 in front of a capacity crowd that had turned up to see India’s two shuttle queens take on each other for the first time in a competitive match.
Fans came in huge numbers to witness them in action. “I have come here only to watch the Saina-Sindhu match and as soon as it finishes I’m leaving,” said an excited Karan Malhotra, 14.
Long queues inside and outside the stadium left the passers-by scratching their heads. “Koi celebrity aaya hai kya (Has some celebrity come)?” was the general question being asked.
The only celebrities present were Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Olympic silver medallist shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
The fans, though, knew what they had come for: The Saina-Sindhu clash. And most of them left soon after the encounter was over.
There was no affiliation to any team here — no Lucknow, no Hyderabad. It was a match for the bragging rights of Indian women’s badminton and Saina retained the rights.
After a whirlwind start to the match which divided pubic loyalty, Saina came into her own and dismantled her younger opponent with ease.
With Sindhu fans finding voice after the 18-year-old shot into the lead in the first game, Saina lovers increased their decibel levels after the Olympic bronze medallist started a remarkable comeback.
The second and final set was a mere formality, as Sindhu, who recently won the bronze at the badminton Worlds, seemed to lose steam.