Sai in seventh heaven!

The inaugural Indian Badminton League (IBL) got off to a rollicking start here at the Siri Fort Sports Complex. 

Sai Praneeth
Sai Praneeth celebrates after his win at the Siri Fort Complex yesterday. Pic/Rajeev Tyagi

India’s young Sai Praneeth came up with an inspiring performance to ensure Krrish Delhi Smashers got a super start to the tournament. World No 55 Praneeth stunned Pune Pistons’ World No 7 Nguyen Tien Minh in straight games 21-16, 21-20 to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.

The 21-year-old Indian executed some top-class smashes to outclass his opponent in the initial part of the first game. However, Minh slowly fought his way back to reduce the five-point gap and take the lead 14-13.

Praneeth, not the one to give it up, upped his play and eventually clinched the game quite comfortably. As expected, the second game was tightly contested. In a see-saw battle, Praneeth kept his composure and finally prevailed 21-20.

Praneeth was delighted with the win. “It was an upset and I am very happy with this win. The new point system can be tricky for anyone. It was good to have an experienced player like Jwala (Gutta) in our dugout. She helped me to calm down.” 

It's advantage Pune
Pune Pistons’ mixed doubles pairing of Ashwini Ponnappa and Joachim Fischer Nielsen were one game up against Delhi’s Jwala Gutta and Kien Keat Koo in the fifth and final match at the time of going to press.

Other results: Juliane Schenk bt Nichaon Jindapon 21-15, 21-6; Boon Hoeng Tan/Kien Keat Koo bt beat Rupesh Kumar/Sanave Thomas 21-13, 21-16; Sourabh Varma bt HS Prannoy 21-16, 19-21, 11-5.  

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