Parupalli Kashyap brought the adoring fans on their feet as he survived five matchpoints to beat Sourabh Verma 14-15, 15-13, 15-14 and registered a crucial victory for Awadhe Warriors against Ahmedabad Smash Masters in the Premier Badminton League, at the Babu Banarasi Das Stadium here on Tuesday.

It was too good a script to be upset as Awadhe Warriors crawled back from difficult positions in the first two matches to stay ahead, winning in a thrilling fashion at the wire. Yet, there was a lot more entertainment in store, as the Ahmedabad team came back to life winning the third match through HS Prannoy, as he beat favourite Kidambi Srikanth 15-8, 15-11 with surprising ease to keep the fans on their toes.

As it happened

Srikanth who threatened to become the world No.1 this season, did save three match points from 14-8, but put one out, to bring the contest back to life. Equally, World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying was too strong, as the trump, for former World No.1 Saina Nehwal, as she scotched a late resurgence from the Indian star in straight games to put the scores equal at 3-3.

When, the match really came to a climax, the fans had little patience for any further drama and melted away, as their priority was watching the stars, especially the Indian players, and the decisive men’s doubles did not compel them to stay glued to their seats on a winter night.

Coming back to the most absorbing match of the evening, there was no doubting the class and calibre of Kashyap, who has a much superior game, understanding and anticipation, than what his best fitness at the moment may dictate, as he rose to the occasion in a dramatic fashion. On the other hand, Sourabh wilted under pressure, surrendering four of the five points from 14-10 in the decider to his own errors.

Even in the second game, it was a string of errors from Sourabh that let Kashyap back into the match.

Earlier on, in the first match of the evening, the all-left hand team of Christinna Pedersen and Tang Chun Man prevailed in an entertaining mixed-doubles encounter after trailing 9-13 in the decider against Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Law Cheuk Him.

The crowd deserved a lot of credit, in adding to the drama, as it packed the stands to create an electrifying atmosphere and ensured that the Lucknow team would be at its sharpest in the climax, for the better part of the tie. There was not much celebration at the end, but Awadhe Warriors had lot to celebrate as it reached the top of the table with 12 points, one ahead of Bengaluru Blasters, which has, of course, played less matches.

The results: Awadhe Warriors bt Ahmedabad Smash Masters 4-3 (Christinna Pedersen & Tang Chun Man bt Kamilla Rytter Juhl & Law Cheuk Him 14-15, 15-12, 15-14; (T) Parupalli Kashyap bt Sourabh Verma 14-15, 15-13, 15-14; Kidambi Srikanth lost to HS Prannoy 8-15, 11-15; Saina Nehwal lost to (T) Tai Tzu Ying 5-15, 14-15; Hendra Setiawan & Tang Chun Man bt Kidambi Nandagopal & Lee Chun Hei Reginald 15-14, 15-10).