PBL: Awadhe Warriors knocks out Delhi Acers

The Awadhe Warriors' sweeping triumph over now-ousted defending champion Delhi Acers left them pleased after the first-leg action of the Premier Badminton League here.

Warriors' player, Saina Nehwal was an obvious favourite, notwithstanding her return to court following a knee-surgery.   -  PTI

The crowd got what it came for. Although excitement was at a premium, the Awadhe Warriors' sweeping triumph over now-ousted defending champion Delhi Acers left them pleased after the first-leg action of the Premier Badminton League here.

The host franchisee added reason to be pleased with Saina Nehwal contributing to the tally and K. Srikanth repeating the bitter dose of defeat, like in the Rio Olympics, to World No. 2 Jon O Jorgensen.

As a result of this second straight 6 points to -1 thrashing, Acers became the first team to be eliminated from the race for a semifinal-berth. In fact, like in the tie against Mumbai Rockets on Tuesday, on this day.

Acers managed to snatch only one game! Worse, on both occasions, Acers collected -1 (for losing its trump match without winning any other encounter) and stayed firmly at the bottom of the points’ tally.

Saina, who has never lost Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol in seven previous encounters – last five in straight games – was an obvious favourite, notwithstanding her return to court following a knee-surgery.

Saina won 14-12, 11-7 after saving two game-points in the opening game and running away with the final five points. With Saina playing the team’s trump match, Warriors’ gained a bonus point to lead 3-0.

Saina, placed six places above the World’s 16th-ranked player, overcame a three-point deficit early in the opening game to make it 6-all. But it was Jindapol who reached the game-point first but a netted-return kept Saina alive. Thereafter, both players squandered a game-point each before Saina nosed ahead when Jindapol erred with her return.

“I am happy with the way some of my strokes landed today. I am gaining confidence with every outing and a victory obviously means a lot against a player against whom I’ve been playing for nearly a decade.”

Srikanth overcame an off-colour Jorgensen who suffered his second loss in less than 48 hours. In fact, the Indian could have won in straight games had he not blown away a 7-3 lead in the second game. In the decider, Srikanth won the big points and added to the woes of the lanky Dane.

Even in the second men’s singles, where World No. 4 Son Wan Ho lost again, much like Jorgensen, leaving Wing Ki Vincent Wong a comfortable winner in quick time.

In the tie-opener, the men’s doubles, Acers’ Akshay Dewalkar was an obvious target of the Malaysians V. Shem Goh and Markis Kido. Goh, the World’s top-ranked doubles player, provided moments of sheer brilliance with Kido playing the supporing role.

The lanky Vladmir Ivanov, obviously did not have much faith in Dewalkar’s abilities, deemed it appropriate to save his energies for the mixed doubles tie.

In the mixed doubles, too, Ivanov and crowd-puller G. Jwala could not do any better. The fancied duo of Savitree Amitrapal and Bodin Isasra made light of the opportunities lost to win the first game more comfortably by running away with the second in quick time.

The scores (‘T’ indicates trump match):

Awadhe Warriors beat Delhi Acers 6 to -1 (V. Shem Goh and Markis Kido beat Vladimir Ivanov and Akshay Dewalkar 11-4, 11-4.; (‘T’) Saina Nehwal bt Nitchaon Jindapol 14-12, 11-7; S. Kidambi bt Jon O Jorgensen 11-9, 11-13, 11-9; Savitree Amitrapal and Bodin Isara bt Ivanov and G. Jwala 12-10, 11-5; Wing Ki Vincent Wong bt (‘T’) Son Wan Ho 11-8, 11-6).