PBL: Saina leads Warriors to their first win

Saina, who had missed her team’s first match against Mumbai Rockets due to a foot injury, outplayed P. C. Thulasi 15-9, 15-10 in the women’s singles, which was the host’s trump match, and put Warriors 2-1 up.

Saina Nehwal used her drop shots well to defeat Delhi Acers' Thulasi.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Saina Nehwal won Awadhe Warriors’ trump match to help the home side beat Delhi Acers in the Premier Badminton League (PBL) at the BBD Academy Complex here on Monday.

Warriors fought back from one point down to clinch the tie 4-3 and record their first win.

In the opening men’s singles encounter, former World championship bronze medallist Tommy Sugiarto tamed an aggressive S. Tanongsak 15-13, 15-11 as Acers started their campaign on a bright note.

The accomplished Indonesian showed his fine craft to take a 5-2 lead, but the energetic Thai made it 7-7. Tanongsak mixed his shots well to give Sugiarto a close chase before the World No. 8 snatched a few crucial points in the first game.

Tanongsak unleashed some smashes, but Sugiarto banked on his all-round game and the Thai's mistakes to open the account for Acers.

However, Saina, who had missed her team’s first match against Mumbai Rockets due to a foot injury, outplayed P. C. Thulasi 15-9, 15-10 in the women’s singles, which was the host’s trump match, and put Warriors 2-1 up.

Thulasi grabbed a 5-2 lead before the momentum shifted in Saina’s favour.

The World No. 2 excelled with her deceptive drop shots and benefitted from Thulasi's unforced errors to race away to victory.

“She (Thulasi) started off well, she is good with her net play. It was my first match of the league and produced a productive result,” said an elated Saina.

Warriors went on to win the following two matches to seal the tie in their favour.

Olympic champion Cai Yun and Bodin Issara pipped the two-time Worlds bronze medallist pair of Koo Keat Kien and Tan Boon Heong 15-12, 15-14 in an action-packed men's doubles contest featuring several long and spectacular rallies.

Sai Praneeth overcame the disappointment of his loss to R. M. V. Gurusaidutt in the previous match to defeat Rajiv Ouseph 15-12, 15-9 and ensure the home team's victory.

Results: Awadhe Warriors bt Delhi Acers 4-3 [S. Tanongsak lost to Tommy Sugiarto 13-15, 11-15 (0/1); TM: Saina Nehwal bt P.C. Thulasi 15-9, 15-10 (2/1); Bodin Issara and Cai Yun bt Koo Keat Kien and Tan Boon Heong 15-12, 15-14 (3/1); Sai Praneeth bt Rajiv Ouseph 15-12, 15-9 (4/1); TM: Hendra Gunawan and K. Maneesha lost to Akshay Dewalkar and Gabrielle Adcock 14-15, 15-13, 5-15 (4/3)].