Awadhe Warriors entered the fray without its ‘General’ Saina Nehwal but it was still good enough to get the better of crowd favourites Hyderabad Hunters 4-3 in the league match of the Premier Badminton League championship at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Saturday night.
Even before the fans could settle down, they were informed that Saina would not be playing in the singles, apparently keen to rest the injured foot, which also forced her out of the team’s opening game in the League.
To add to the disappointment of home fans, Hunters’ Supanida Katethong, who was expected to make optimum use of the huge opportunity of not facing Saina in the first match of the evening, came a cropper against Vrishali. The Warriors girl was just too good in all aspects of the game and wrapping up a 15-7, 15-11 win in quick time.
Warriors’s strategy of preferring the men’s doubles encounter as the ‘trump match’ worked well with Bodin Issara and Cai Yun notching up a 15-10, 15-12 win against former Olympics doubles gold medallist Markis Kido and Carsten Mogensen.
The left-right combination of Issara and Cai was able to come up with the big points almost every time the opponents threatened to close in the gap. That this Warriors combine could force even the seasoned Kido to make crucial unforced errors was a tribute to their efficacy on court.
Then, in what was a battle between two regular sparring partners at Gopi Academy, B. Sai Praneeth came back from a first game deficit to down the more experienced P. Kashyap 6-15, 15-8, 15-5.
Except in the first game when Kashyap came up with his trademark, big smashes and better net play, it was Praneeth show all the way as the match progressed. Picking up big points with stunning regularity, Praneeth essayed delectable drops and powerful bodyline attack which brooked no return from Kashyap.
With the focus shifting to the trump match for Hunters, Lee Chong Wei, who lost both his matches earlier, had to come up with something special against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and he did not disappoint his teammates with a clinical 15-8, 15-9 win.
Though Tanongsak surprised Lee Chong with big smashes early in the game to take a 4-1 lead, once the former World No.1 changed gears he was unstoppable. Lee Chong dished out a masterclass with some amazing returns from very difficult angles. With the big smashes falling in place, the Malaysian wrapped up an easy win.
In the last match of the evening, mixed doubles pair of Markis Kido and G. Jwala got the better of Bodin Issara and Christinna Pedersen with a 12-15, 15-14, 15-10.
Results (T indicates trump match):-
Awadhe Warriors bt Hyderabad Hunters 4-3 ( G. Vrushali bt K. Supanida 15-7, 15-11; Bodin Issara & Cai Yun (T) bt Carsten Mogensen & Markis Kido 15-10, 15-12; B. Sai Praneeth bt P. Kashyap 6-15, 15-8, 15-5; S. Tanongsak lost to Lee Chong Wei (T) 8-15, 9-15; Bodin Issara & Christinna Pedersen lost to G. Jwala & Markis Kido 12-15, 15-14, 15-10).