Mumbai: Saina Nehwal-led Hyderabad Hotshots crowned themselves as the champions of the inaugural Indian Badminton League when they downed Awadhe Warriors 3-1 in the finals at the NSCI Stadium here today.
Indian shuttle queen Saina brought the Hotshots on level terms by trouncing her young challenger PV Sindhu in straight games 21-15, 21-7 in 35 minutes after K Srikanth gave the Warriors an unexpected 1-0 lead by stunning top-20 rival S Tanongsak in straight games, 21-12, 21-20.
Hotshots surged ahead again after Saina’s thumping win when their top Malaysian men’s doubles team of Goh V Shem and Wah Lim Khim got the better of the scratch Danish-Indonesian pair of Mathias Boe and Markis Kido in three games 21-14, 13-21, 11-4.
Later Ajay Jayaram did the star turn for the Hotshots with a wonderful turnaround when he got past RMV Gurusaidutt after dropping the first game. Jayaram, ranked 24th in the world, beat 20th ranked Guru 10-21, 21-17, 11-7 in 52 minutes to help the Hotshots win the top prize of Rs 3.5 crore.
Warriors took home Rs 1.75 crore. Srikanth shocked his Thai rival Tanongsak, ranked 19 places above him in the world, by his aggression to chalk up an impressive 21-12, 21-20 win in 38 minutes to put the Warriors 1-0 ahead.
Earlier, any hopes of Sindhu making it a commanding 2-0 lead for the Lucknow-based Warriors vanished into thin air when she was overpowered by her more experienced rival in the eagerly awaited battle between India’s top two woman shuttlers.
Saina, who had beaten the taller Sindhu when the two met earlier on August 15 in the league stage of the event, smashed and dropped her way with impunity to win the one-sided contest 21-15, 21-7 in only 35 minutes and helped the Hotshots square the contest 1-1.
The Warriors then looked all set to equalise the rubber for the second time during the clash when R M V Gurusaidutt overcame an error prone Ajay Jayaram of Hotshots, in the opening game.
But Jayaram, who trailed his rival 4-7 in the second game too, made a splendid fightback from 10-14 in the second and caught up at 17 with a drop. Jayaram then went ahead and then rattled off three more points to clinch the game with a jump smash.
In the third, Jayaram surged ahead from 5-all by stepping up his game a notch to clinch the decider. He smashed well when in sight of victory and took the last point with a drop shot.