Dashers blanks Hunters 5-0, Marin’s emphatic win inconsequential

Delhi Dashers won all but one of the ties, with Carlina Marin registering its only win of the evening.

Tian Houwei beat Sai Praneeth to help Delhi Dashers pull away from Hyderabad Hunters.   -  AP

Host Delhi Dashers found a way to record its elusive win as it took an unbeatable 4-0 lead over Hyderabad Hunters, even before the last mixed doubles could be played in the Vodafone Premier Badminton League at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here on Sunday. Ashwini Ponnappa and Vladimir Ivanov triumphed over Zebadiah Bernadet and Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy in the final, mixed doubles tie to complete the sweep for Delhi.

As it happened

It was some atmosphere as the only Chinese in the competition, Tian Houwei, was cheered heartily by the home fans, as he was representing Delhi, against one of the best Indian players this season, Sai Praneet.

As a trump, Tian Houwei closed a dramatic rubber with a touch of assurance in the decider, after Sai Praneeth had saved five matchpoints with authentic strokes to force the third game. This brought the crowd alive, and compelled it to cheer Sai as well, but the Chinese was far too solid to let a second recovery for Praneeth, who erred at the crunch this time, by putting the shuttle out.

Earlier, it took the reigning Olympic champion and two-time World Champion Carolina Marin to check the unexpected dominance of Delhi Dashers, and keep Hyderabad Hunters in the hunt for points.

On the new year eve, when the mood was celebration, it was not easy to keep the fans in the stadium, but the sudden resurgence of Delhi, which had struggled to gather three points from its first two matches, added a dramatic twist to the script.

Powered by the Russian dynamos, Ivan Sozonov and Vladimir Ivanov, Delhi got off to a strong start, but that was nothing, when compared to Wing Ki Wong Vincent winning the second match against Lee Hyun Il, who was playing as the trump for Hyderabad.

The way Lee Hyun Il was toying with his all-court crafty game, quite elegant as a left-hander, it was hard to visualise a revival for Vincent, who it had to be conceded, had lost some close matches so far.

However, the sudden surrender, especially in the decider, when Lee Hyun Il won a handful of points, was hard to digest. It was, of course, understandable that Vincent was overwhelmed by the unexpected spell of fortune and celebrated heartily, peeling off his shirt and throwing it into the stands for the fans to keep as a souvenir.

In fact, Vincent took so much time to celebrate that Lee Hyun Il had walked away to grab his bag, and the umpire had to tell the Delhi player that he had to follow the basic protocol of shaking hands with his opponent after the match.

It was only the second point for Delhi in the tie, but it meant more as Hyderabad, leading the table along with two other teams so far with eight points, had a negative point for losing the trump match.

Thus, when Carolina Marin was all grace and poise, stinging repeatedly with venomous shots , Hyderabad could only nullify the disadvantage and reach zero, with the point gained through the Spaniard.

It was a shaky start for Carolina, but she reeled off seven points on the trot from 8-10 to turn the tide firmly in her favour. But, as it turned out, it was a mere face saving exercise for Hyderabad.

The joy of the host was complete, when the ‘’beauty and the beast’’ combination of Ashwini Ponnappa and Vladimir Ivanov triumphed in the mixed doubles for a 5-0 victory for Delhi Dashers, that took the team’s tally on par with the leader at eight!

The results:

Delhi Dashers beats Hyderabad Hunters 5-0 (Ian Sozonov & Vladimir Ivanov bt Markis Kido & Yoo Yeon Seong 15-9, 15-11; Wing Ki Wong Vincent bt (T) Lee Hyun Il 13-15, 15-11, 15-4; Sung Ji Hyun lost to Carolina Marin 10-15, 12-15; (T) Tian Houwei bt Sai Praneeth 15-14, 14-15, 15-10; Ashwini Ponnappa & Vladimir Ivanov bt Pia Zebadiah Bernadet & Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy 15-11, 15-12).