Saina makes her point


World no. 4 Saina Nehwal emerged victorious in the battle of the shuttle queens, as Hyderabad Hotshots opened their campaign with a thrilling 3-2 win over Awadhe Warriors on Day Two of the Indian Badminton League here on Thursday.

Touted as the match of the $1 million league, London Olympics bronze medallist Saina got the better of her junior sparring partner and world no. 10 P.V. Sindhu 21-19, 21-8 in the women’s singles match to extend the Hotshots’ lead to 2-0 at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
Thailand’s Saensomboonsuk Tanongsak had earlier given Hyderabad a winning start with a comeback 15-21, 21-14, 11-9 win over world no. 20 Indian R.M.V. Gurusaidutt.
But the Danish pair of Mathias Boe and Markis Kido put Awadhe Warriors back in the hunt, defeating Goh V. Shem and Lim Khim Wah of Malaysia 21-14, 21-20 in the first men’s doubles.
The second men’s singles was also an intriguing clash that ended with the match score level at 2-2 as K. Srikanth, ranked 38, shocked world no. 24 Ajay Jayaram 21-17, 21-19 to force a decider.
The deciding mixed doubles was an even affair with the pair of Goh V. Shem and Pradnya Gadre sealing the issue in the Hotshots’ favour with a 21-9, 19-21, 11-8 win over Markis Kido and Sapsiree Taerattanachal Sapsiree.
The opening win against Warriors gave the Hotshots four points, while Warriors picked up two points.

Experience versus skill
Saina and Sindhu took the court before a full house as national coach and mentor of both shuttlers, P. Gopichand, patiently watched his protégés perform from a distance.
It was a match of experience versus skill; with the senior pro eventually proving that she is still the best in the country.
Sindhu had a healthy lead in both games with well-crafted drop shots and smashes. Sindhu also mixed her strokes with cross tosses to maintain the lead, at least for some time.
Down 10-15 in the first game, a gritty Saina changed the course of the game with an array of smashes and took seven consecutive points.
If one section of the capacity house was backing Saina, the other opted to root for Sindhu. And once Saina led her junior compatriot, she was able to maintain the momentum to seal the game.
Saina continued in the same vein in the second game and completely outplayed her training partner. She raced to a 7-4 lead before she made it 17-7, as Sindhu seemed to lose focus.
A few unforced errors by the younger player also contributed to Saina’s cause as she finished it off in style.

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