Indian Badminton League: PV Sindhu takes Awadhe Warriors into final with Saina Nehwal's Hyderabad Hotshots
PV Sindhu once again played a stellar role to bring her team back into contention following Master's icon player Lee Chong Wei's 21-15, 21-7 victory over Gurusai Dutt in the first match of the tie.
Riding on PV Sindhu's sensational win over All-England champion Tine Baun and excellent performances by their doubles teams, Awadhe Warriors entered the Indian Badminton League final on Thursday as they edged past Mumbai Masters 3-2 in a nail-biting semi-final here.
The Warriors, who got the better of the Lee Chong Wei-led Mumbai Masters, thus booked a summit clash against Hyderabad Hotshots.
The contest between the two teams remained close till the fourth match of the tie, but the mixed doubles pair of Markis Kido-Pia Bernadeth of Warriors finally brought the cheers as they defeated Masters' Ivanov Vladimir and Baun 21-19 21-15 in the decider.
Earlier, Sindhu once again played a stellar role to bring her team back into contention following Master's icon player Lee Chong Wei's 21-15 21-7 victory over Gurusai Dutt in the first match of the tie.
After Sindhu brought Warriors on a par with Masters 1-1, it was left to her team's Markis Kido and Mathias Boe to take a lead over their opponents, which they did in style.
The combo made Masters' pair Sumeet Reddy and Pranav Jerry Chopra eat humble pie at 21-15 21-10.
However, Ivanov levelled the tie at 2-2 against K Srikanth with his famous strokes mesmerising the fans as he pulled off a 21-20 21-19 win in a close match.
In the decider, Ivanov once again was seen in action playing the mixed doubles along with Baun against Kido and his sister Pia Bernadeth.
The siblings edged past Ivanov and Baun 14-10 after the second break. Soon, they bagged the first game 21-19 despite a spirited comeback by Ivanov and Baun.
Kido-Pia maintained a 18-14 lead over Ivanov-Baun after the second break in the second game and defeated the Masters duo 21-15 clinch a ticket to the final for the Warriors.
Earlier, as expected, Masters' icon player and trump card Lee gave his team the perfect start to the tie.
Although Gurusai took the match to Lee, the latter showed early glimpses of prudent judgement and precision timing to seal the first game at 21-15 despite committing nine unforced errors as against five by Gurusai.
As for Gurusai, he hung in there after forcing some long rallies, but could not breach the extraordinary racquet work displayed by the Malaysian.
After losing the first game, Gurusai came under far too much pressure as he conceded the first break of the second game 2-7 against the Masters' icon player.
Lee capitalised on the depleting confidence of Gurusai and played some magnificent badminton, reminiscent of a ballad by a beautiful damsel, to lead by 14-2 by the second break.
Lee, soon buoyed by the presence of Gavaskar and Nagarjuna in the audience, nailed the the first match 21-15 21-7 in a staggering display.
After Lee's superior show, it was Sindhu's turn to get cracking.
Against Baun, the 18-year-old World No. 10 and World Badminton Championship bronze medallist, took the lead at 7-4 in the first break and then at 14-9 in the second break before snatching the game from the three-time All-England champion 21-16.
Sindhu repeated the tactics of unsettling Baun in the second game right from the word go. The Warriors' icon player tightened the noose and outplayed Baun in every department.
The Indian was a treat to watch as she beat Baun for the second time in the league 21-16 and 21-13.
"I'm thankful to the crowd for all the support. My coaches told me how to play my game. As an icon player, I tell all my team players to give their best," Sindhu said after her win.
In the men's doubles as well, the third match of the tie, the first game went Warriors' way as their Kido-Boe pairing managed to take a 14-10 lead at the second break after trailing 5-7 at the first.
They gained momentum as the game progressed and some unforced errors committed by Masters helped them seal the first game 21-15. Kido-Boe then proceeded to make mincemeat of the Reddy and Chopra pair, defeating them 21-15 21-10.
In the fourth game, Masters' Ivanov won the crucial first game against Srikanth 21-20.
The first game held some nerve-wracking moments for both players as the match turned into a see-saw contest with Ivanov taking the lead at 7-3 at the first break and then Srikanth broke back to lead Ivanov 14-12 after the second break.
However, the 'Russian Rocket', as he is called in IBL, had the last laugh at 20-all as he won the match point.
In the second game, Ivanov rode on his powerful smashes and better placements to tame Srikanth 21-19 to force the tie into the decider.