With the Mumbai Masters not featuring in the final of the inaugural Indian Badminton League, the crowd at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) were not exactly torn between whom to support and whom to give a cold shoulder. As is the case with most of us, they went for the safest option: support the Indian if he was up against a foreigner.
Kidambi Srikanth of Pune Warriors was a clear beneficiary of the crowd’s support beating Hyderabad Hotshots’ Tanongsak Saemsomboonsuk 21-12, 21-20 to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead. Nevertheless, this crucial lead was not sufficient as Hyderabad fought back to win the match and with it the tournament 3-1.
Ajay Jayaram produced a spectacular fightback in the fourth match of the tie beating Guru Saidutt 10-21, 21-17, 11-7 giving Hyderabad the all important win.
With Saina Nehwal beating PV Sindhu 21-15, 21-7 to bring Hyderabad on level terms with Awadhe, it was left to the favoured duo of Markis Kido and Mathias Boe to help the latter regain the lead. That however, was not how the script unfolded as Awadhe’s Goh V Shem and Wah Lim Khim beat Kido-Boe 21-14, 13-21, 11-4.
Lone ranger, Srikanth
Earlier, Srikanth who is on a high after his win at the Thailand Open justified all the cheers, winning the first game 21-12. There was little resistance from his opponent who is ranked 19 in the world, a good 19 places above the Indian. The Thai player, who looked lost amidst all the drumbeats and pretty ordinary song selections by the resident DJ, nevertheless fought back well in the second game, but fell short 20-21, thereby giving Awadhe a 1-0 lead.
Elated with the result, Srikanth said: “The beginning was tough, but after the first interval, I was able to increase the points gap. This gave me confidence to play my game. I remained focused and even though Tanongsak gave me a great fight in the second game, the match went in our favour.”