Mumbai Rockets may have been at the bottom of the pile, but it only helped the team spring to life against host Awadhe Warriors in the Vodafone Premier Badminton League at the Babu Banarasi Das Stadium here on Thursday.
If you had thought that the clash between the table-topper - Warriors with 12 points - and wooden-spoon holder Rockets, could be one-sided, you were not wrong.
READ: As the action unfolded
However, it was Mumbai which made it lop-sided with a vibrant start, that stunned the adoring home fans who had assembled in strength, largely to see Saina Nehwal in action.
Saina wages lone battle
In the event, it was left to the World Championship bronze medallist and the former World No.1, Saina to revive the fortunes of the team, which had gone into the negative after losing the opening mixed doubles match.
The fact that Parupalli Kashyap did not take the court and the inexperienced Harshit Aggarwal had to take his place against the crafty Sameer Verma, saw Awadhe lose further ground.
With cricketer Suresh Raina egging the Awadhe team on from the sidelines, the stage was set for Saina to show her class.
Saina wins a thriller
But, it was battle-ready Beiwen Zhang, who cruised to victory in the first game. At one point, Zhang threatened to run away with the match, but Saina thwarted her surge, winning six points on the trot from 9-10.
In the decider, Saina led 8-4 at the change, even as Beiwen Zhang struggled for fluency and power.
As the encounter reached its climax, Saina did assert herself by gaining five match points at 14-10. And while she squandered three of those, a stinging shot down the line - that sent Beiwen Zhang flying in a vain attempt for retrieval - helped her seal a memorable victory.
Awadhe Warriors, of course, with no point to show after three matches, as the negative point was nullified by Saina’s victory, swung the pendulum through K. Srikanth who beat the former world No.1 So Wan Ho in three games, winning the decider rather handily 15-4, much to the delight of the fans.
However, it was Mumbai’s day and the Rockets did launch itself higher in the table with a decisive victory in the trump doubles through Lee Yong Dae and Tan Boon Heong.
So, as the caravan moves to Chennai, Mumbai reached 10 points, while Awadhe strengthened its semifinal claims by staying at the top with13 points.