In what was touted as the match of the tournament, Hyderabad Hotshots’ Saina Nehwal emerged victorious against Awadhe Warriors’ P.V. Sindhu in the women’s singles event of the Indian Badminton League (IBL) at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here Thursday.
The Hotshots' icon player won the match 21-19, 21-8 in front of a capacity crowd that had turned up to see the two Indian shuttle queens take on each other for the first time in a competitive match.
After a whirlwind start to the match, which divided pubic loyalty, Saina came into her own and dismantled her younger opponent with relative ease.
With the win, the Hotshots took a 2-0 lead. Thai Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk gave Hyderabad a 1-0 lead by winning the first men’s singles match against R.M.V. Gurusaidutt.
Sindhu started the match in fantastic fashion by continuing her World Championship form, starting with a lead of 8-4 against the World No.4. The 18-year-old excelled at the net outpacing Saina.
But the Olympic bronze medallist displayed her skills and retrieved several smashes from Sindhu to level the scores at 9-9. Sindhu’s all-round court coverage proved decisive and she reverted back by taking a crucial 15-10 lead.
But the 23-year-old Saina found her legs and bagged the next seven points to take the lead for the first time in the match (17-15). Sindhu fought back and reduced Saina’s lead to 18-17.
With the crowd cheering for both the girls, national coach and mentor of the duo Pullela Gopichand stood relaxed at a distance and smiled seeing the level of competition of his protégés.
Saina’s showed who is the more experienced of the two and in the end was easily able to seal the game.
The senior Hyderabadi started the second game in an aggressive fashion against Sindhu. Though Sindhu matched her senior at the start, a deceptive and aggressive Saina took flight and raced away to a 7-4 advantage.