Lucknow: World champion PV Sindhu showed the gulf of class between herself and India's other women's singles shuttlers as she guided Hyderabad Hunters to their first win, defeating home side Awadhe Warriors at the Premier Badminton League 2020 at the Babu Banarasi Das Badminton Academy on Sunday. In a brilliant display by the former champions, Sourabh Verma and the mixed doubles pair of Sikki Reddy and Vladimir Ivanov also notched up wins for the Hunters.
The badminton-loving crowd at Lucknow was treated to a Republic Day special masterclass by Sindhu as the Rio Olympic silver medallist blew away Awadhe's Tanvi Lad 15-8, 15-8. Sindhu looked totally in control right from the start as she sailed away to 8-1. By luring Sindhu to the net, the Warriors shuttler made an effort to prevent the World No.6 from raining down her smashes in the second game. She closed to within three points of her highly accomplished rival at 6-9 but Sindhu soon widened the gap between them to finish the match effortlessly.
"I am feeling really happy. The crowd was really supportive despite me playing against the home team, Awadhe Warriors. I really enjoyed the atmosphere,' said Sindhu after her win.
Earlier, Sourabh Verma rekindled his love affair with Lucknow as he bagged a hard-fought win for Hyderabad Hunters against Awadhe's Subhankar Dey. Verma, who reached the final of the Syed Modi International at the same venue just two months ago, rebounded after losing the first game to record a gritty 14-15, 15-12, 15-10 win.
The first game was a test of nerves and stamina which Dey passed with flying colours as he edged Verma to bag the opener. Undeterred by the score, Verma brought about a change of tactics to rob Dey of his pace. By constantly slowing down the shuttle, the Hunters ace levelled the second game at 12-12 before pocketing it.
Buoyed by the comeback, the three-time national champion Verma raced through the decider to set up an 11-7 lead and maintained it to complete the stunning victory.
"Losing the first game necessitated a change of strategy from my side which helped me come back into the match. Subhankar is a very good player and it's always tough to play against him. This was my first match against him in PBL. I am glad to get the win and I hope we continue this momentum," said Verma after the win.
The mixed doubles match witnessed an upset of Trump as Hyderabad's Reddy and Ivanov pulled off a 15-12, 15-14 win over Awadhe's Shin Baek Cheol and Christinna Pedersen.
With the Hunters leading 3-1, it looked like they would sail to victory but the Warriors Wong Wing Ki Vincent arrived to the party to rob the Hunters of a point by defeating their Trump Daren Liew.
Vincent, who is a PBL veteran, notched up a 15-14, 15-9 win over Liew to bring Awadhe back to zero from (-)1.
In the final match of the tie, Ko Sung Hyun-Cheol defeated Hunters' Ivanov-Ben Lane 15-12, 15-8 in Men's Doubles to end the match 2-1 in Hunters favour.
MS: Subhankar Dey 15-14, 12-15, 10-15 Sourabh Verma
MX: Shin Baek Cheol-Christinna Pedersen 12-15, 14-15 Vladimir Ivanov-N Sikki Reddy
WS: Tanvi Lad 8-15, 8-15 PV Sindhu
MS: Wong Wing Ki Vincent 15-14, 15-9 Daren Liew
MD: Ko Sung Hyun-Cheol 15-12, 15-8 Ivanov-Ben Lane