Hyderabad : Egged on by the home crowd, a Saina Nehwal-inspired Hyderabad Hotshots consolidated their position by taking an early 2-0 lead in the Indian Badminton League (IBL) face-off against bottom-placed Banga Beats here on Tuesday.
Saina won her match 21-17, 14-21, 11-8 against Ying Tai Tzu, after Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk gave the hosts a cracking start by staving off the challenge of India’s top male shuttler Parupalli Kashyap 21-20, 21-18.
After giving ample evidence of her touch in the first game, Saina went down easily in the second to give Bangalore a glimmer of hope. However, the third and final game belonged to Saina.
The HotShots took a 1-0 win after Saensomboonsuk defeated Kashyap to qualify for the semifinals.
The two victories enabled Hyderabad to reach the top of the points table.
The keenly-awaited game of the day, the women’s singles match between icon player Saina and Banga Beats’ Ying Tai Tzu began as a close contest with the score being 7-4 at first break.
What followed was a visual treat of powerful smashes, rallies for the spectators as the two seasoned players sweated it out. Saina managed to move ahead and the score was 14-10 by the second interval.
Though Ying Tai Tzu tried her best to narrow the gap, a few unforced errors proved costly for her and the never-say-die Saina succeeded in maintaining the lead. Saina’s deft play, however, ensured that she pocketed it 21-17.
Tzu fought back in the second game and made it 7-6 at the first break but Saina narrowed the gap soon and equalled the score at 10-10. Ying Tai Tzu did not give up and succeeded in extending her lead. Long rallies followed before Tai managed to wrest the second game 21-14.
The deciding third game was a keenly fought battle comprising of powerful smashes and cross court shots with Saina taking the lead.
Saina kept up the momentum and reached the target 11 points against 8 scored by Ying Tai Tzu. A standing ovation followed.
In the opening match, Saemsomboonsuk took an early lead. However, Kashyap caught up levelling the score at 10-10. With the combination of some powerful smashes and a rallies, Kashyap surpassed Tanongsak at the time of second interval by racing away to a 14-11 lead.
Tanongsak, however, put up a tough fight and made matters difficult for Kashyap with his gritty play. The keen contest were locked at 20-20 before the Thai had the last laugh.
Continuing his intelligent play, Tanongsak surged ahead in the second game and established a solid lead of 14-4 by the second break. Kashyap tried to come back into the game and took the score to 16-18. However, the Hyderabad player prevailed finally and ended the game 21-18.
Saensomboonsuk said, “It’s always great to play against Kashyap. The last smash was something which I would always like to remember and also like to thank the crowd who has been very supportive.”