PBL: Saina loses even as Warriors thrashes Hunters

Carolina Marin, after subduing P. V. Sindhu in PBL's opening tie, quelled Saina Nehwal's challenge with her delectable drops and high-octane smashes. Her team, Hyderabad Hunters, however, went down 0-5 to Awadhe Warriors.

kidambi srikanth

Kidambi Srikanth clinched the victory for Awadhe Warriors with a three-game win over Rajiv Ouseph.   -  K. V. S. Giri

Olympic champion Carolina Marin for Hyderabad Hunters put up another terrific performance on Monday after demolishing the challenge of P. V. Sindhu of Chennai Smashers on Sunday. This time, the Spaniard vanquished former World No. 1 Saina Nehwal of Awadhe Warriors 15-14, 11-5 to notch up her second big win in the Hyderabad-leg of the Premier Badminton League.

It, however, wasn't good enough for Hunters as it went down 0-5 after losing its trump match (which fetches two points for a win and subtracts one from the losing team) to Warriors.

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Saina, playing in front of her home crowd after a long time, showed glimpses of class in the first game. The half-smashes and the net-dribbles seemed to be working for Saina but to her chagrin, Marin raised the bar every time she was put under pressure.

Once again, it was Marin's brilliance at the net and big smashes that proved decisive. Her uncanny knack for setting up delectable drops after engaging long rallies helped her pull off another impressive win.

Earlier, Warriors was off to a winning start when World No. 17 Wing Ki Vincent Wong pipped a spirited B. Sai Praneeth 11-13, 11-6, 13-11.

In the first game, Praneeth was off to a 4-0 lead before his erratic returns were capitalised by Wong. The latter managed to snatch a 10-8 lead. In the next point, he lost a challenge, which gave Praneeth the impetus to come up with stunning backhands to clinch the game.

In the second, Wong was dominant, setting up beautifully the big smashes and the cross-court drops as Praneeth struggled with his returns.

In the decider, Wong, with better net play and two big smashes, took an 8-5 lead. Praneeth fought back well to make it 8-8. A Wong return that went out took him to 9-8. He added another point with a big smash but Wong fought back to level again.

At 11-11, Praneeth's ambitious smash hit the net to give Wong the match point, which he won after Praneeth netted a wonderful rally.

Importantly for Warriors, the mixed doubles pair of Savitree Amitrapai and Isara Bodin won the trump match.

Then, in a crucial men’s singles tie, World No. 15 Kidambi Srikanth outclassed a spirited Rajiv Ouseph to clinch his team's victory. The top Indian shuttler among the men was surprised by the tenacity and some stunning strokes from his English opponent. But to his team’s delight, Srikanth stayed cool in the tense moments.