Delhi, Pune share early honours

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Youngster Sai Praneeth B. launched Krrish Delhi Smashers’ campaign in style with a 21-16, 21-20 upset of Tien Minh Nguyen of Pune Pistons, as the opening day of the Indian Badminton League unfolded at the Siri Fort Stadium here on Wednesday.

A glittering ceremony marked the launch of the multi-million dollar event. Singer Niti Mohan besides acrobatic dancers mesmerised the spectators, while brilliant laser shows left the partisan crowd speechless.
If Praneeth lifted the spirits of the crowd displaying a variety of strokes to put Delhi one-up, world no. 2 and Pune Pistons’ key player Juliane Schenk thrashed Nichaon Jindapon of Thailand 21-15, 21-8 in the women’s singles to level scores.
Buoyed by a couple of impressive performances recently, Praneeth played above expectations to upset the Vietnamese world no. seven, who seemed off-colour. The Delhi player’s down the line smashes and brilliant defense helped to his cause.
Despite both being attackers, Praneeth and Nguyen started defensively, as the match opened on a slow pace. Praneeth however, stayed ahead right through,stretching his lead from 4-3 to 8-4, when after a long rally the teenager finished off with a winner.
Nguyen fought back to level at 13-13, also thanks to Praneeth pushing a couple of shuttles wide and went ahead 14-13. But Praneeth mixed his strokes to take a couple of points and make it 18-15.
Praneeth then finished it off with a smash to put Delhi ahead.
The second game was a close affair, with Nguyen coming back strongly after the break. The scores read 3-3, 4-4, 9-9 before the Pune player went ahead 14-10.
Praneeth, not ready to give up, levelled at 14-14, and then 18-18 with his trade mark smashes. At 20-20, Praneeth hit the shuttle to the net as Nguyen rejoiced his chance to pull the match to the decider, which is of only 11 points.
Praneeth this time made no mistake and patiently pulled off the match 21-20.
Delhi’s celebration however didn’t last for long as Schenk’s emphatic win in the women’s singles put Pune back in the race.
It was an one-sided affair as s Jindapon was no match for the superior Schenk, who pulled off the match with an ease.
Despite the organisers claim that the tickets were sold out for the first two days, more than half of the seats remained empty.

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