Saina's big home test
World No 4 Nehwal has not had much success in India bar the Commonwealth gold. Can she change that in the IBL?
In the context of the just-concluded World Championships in Guangzhou, the Indian Badminton League could not have been better timed.
More precisely, the Saina Nehwal vs PV Sindhu clash could not have been scheduled for a more opportune time. Hyderabad Hotshots gear up to face off against Awadhe Warriors this evening, and needless to say the duo will hog most of the limelight at the Siri Fort Complex.
“I am really looking forward to this match. I have learnt a lot from Saina and I idolise her. We have sparred in practice, but this will be the first time we will face each other. I intend to do my best,” Sindhu said yesterday.
Quite remarkably, it’s Saina who will find herself under pressure, as her record in India has been patchy. Barring the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold, all her championship triumphs have materialised abroad.
In this clash, one will also be witness to two different styles of play. While Saina is adept at long rallies as well as the attacking game, the 5ft 11 inch Sindhu is not so comfortable at playing at the net.
She is strong from the back-court and can prove devastating when it comes to raining down those steep smashes.
The re-worked scoring system in the IBL may help Hyderabad’s other key player Taufik Hidayat as he gets lots of breaks.
But whether it would be wise to play him against young guns like Gurusaidutt or K Srikanth remains to be seen. In final analysis, this will be a really close affair, but with Saina enjoying a slight edge, the Hotshots should be able to pull off the tie 3-2.
Eye on Mumbai
Lee Chong Wei will be the centre of attraction when Mumbai Masters take on Banga Beats in the other game of the evening. The World No 1 was forced to concede his World Championships final against Lin Dan in the closing stages after sustaining an injury and will remain a doubtful starter in today’s tie.
He is likely to play P Kashyap and given the latter’s form it would not be surprising to witness a close contest. “I am in the best possible shape. I was match-point up in the World Championships quarter-finals but somehow failed to close the game.
I am looking forward to playing Lee and hope to do well. We met at the London Olympics and the first game was very close. I know his game and have huge regards for him. But when I face him again I will do my very best to defeat him,” Kashyap told MiD DAY yesterday.
Banga Beats enjoy an edge in the second men’s singles as Hu Yun is capable of defeating the second singles player of Mumbai, Marc Zwiebler from Germany.
Bangalore would fancy their chances in the women’s singles as well since World No 7 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, with the 2013 Malaysia Open and 2012 Japan Open titles under her belt, could prove a handful for the 34-year-old Danish legend Tine Baun.