PUNE: Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal shepherded the Hyderabad Hotshots to a comfortable 3-2 victory over Mumbai Masters in the inaugural Indian Badminton League at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi on Thursday.
Despite a thrilling victory by world number one Lee Chong Wei of Mumbai Masters in the opening match, the Hotshots bounced back with Saina winning her women’s singles, followed by triumph of men’s doubles combo of V Shem Goh and WL Khim and later men’s singles player Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk emerged victorious to seal the tie in Hyderabad’s favour.
Having registered three victories from four outings, the Hotshots are at the top of the table with 15 points.
Two-time silver medallist at the Olympics, Lee opened the account for Mumbai Masters with a thrilling 21-19, 11-21, 11-5 win over Ajay Jayaram of Hyderabad in the first men’s singles that lasted 47 minutes.
Post his win Lee Chong said: “Initially the wind was very high and I decided to start slow. It took me some time to adjust but the warm up gave good result. I am happy with the win. We are one up already.”
However, world number four Saina Nehwal thrashed PC Thulasi 21-7, 21-10 in a 28-minute women’s singles match to bring Hyderabad’s campaign back on track here.
Saina said, “It feels so good to win all the matches I have played so far. I came here for the World Championship last time and got the same support from Pune. I am glad to once again make my fans in Pune happy.”
Hyderabad’s Goh and Khim then took the court against BS Reddy and Manu Attri of Mumbai in the men’s doubles match and the duo rallied from a game down to give the Hotshots a 2-1 lead with a 11-21, 21-16, 11-9 victory.
“Both Reddy and Attri played very well which put us under pressure from the beginning. But the cheers of crowd for our team brought us back in the game,” Goh and Khim said after registering the victory.
At this juncture, the onus was on Marc Zweibler of Germany to bring Mumbai back into the contest, but the world number 12 was stunned 21-19, 17-21, 11-6 by the Saensomboonsuk of Thailand, who is ranked 19th, to give Hyderabad an unassailable 3-1 lead.
“I really enjoyed playing. Marc was good competition for me but my confidence levels were very high from the beginning and it reflected in my winning shots,” Tanongsak said.
Mumbai, however, managed to reduce the margin of defeat with Vladimir Ivanov and Sikki Reddy beating Tarun Kona and Padyna Gadre of Hyderabad 21-18, 21-19 in the mixed doubles match.