Hyd back to winning ways

Hyd back to winning ways

Hyderabad Hotshots, spearheaded by India's shuttle queen Saina Nehwal, halted the high flying Pune Pistons' unbeaten run with a comprehensive 4-1...

Mumbai (PTI): Hyderabad Hotshots, spearheaded by India's shuttle queen Saina Nehwal, halted the high flying Pune Pistons' unbeaten run with a comprehensive 4-1 victory in the Indian Badminton League at the NSCI courts here. The thumping victory also powered the Hotshots to the top of the league table with 11 points to their credit while leaving Pistons is in second spot with 9.

Saina provided the early spark to the Hotshots campaign against the league toppers by clinching the high quality women's singles clash against her long-time German rival Juliane Schenk in a battle between two of the world's top five players late lasty night.
Egged on by the partisan crowd chanting "Saina Saina", the Indian world no 4 downed world no 3 Schenk 17-21, 21-19, 11-6 in 59 minutes after her compatriot and teammate Ajay Jayram shocked Vietnamese rival Tien Minh Nguyen, world no 5, 21-19 21-8 in the opening men's singles encounter in just 40 minutes.
Later, the Malaysian world no 2 pair of V Shem Goh and Wah Lim Khah subdued the challenge of India's seasoned pair Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar 21-19 and 21-16 to give the Hotshots a winning lead in the best of five clash, their second victory in three ties, thus ensuring the Pistons' first defeat in as many encounters.
Thailand's S Tanongsak, a semi finalist at the All-England made it 4-0 for the Hotshots with a straight-game victory over Pistons' Saurabh Varma. The left hander won 21-19, 21-18 in the second men's singles match. Pistons got a consolation victory as well as one point from the tie when their mixed doubles combination of Joaquim Fischer Nielsen and Ashwini Ponnappa downed Hotshots' pair of V Shem Goh and Pradnya Gadre 21-11, 21-14.
The match of the evening was the high-octane one between Saina and Schenk that the Indian won after a grim struggle to take her superior win-loss record against the German to 9-4. The clash had all the trappings of a very good match between two of the world's top women shuttlers and enthralled the crowd, both players striving their best especially in the second game that stretched to 27 minutes.
Saina started on the wrong note against Schenk against whom she has an 8-4 win-loss record at the international level, by making a number of unforced errors in the opening game which she lost quite tamely after bridging a big gap. Saina trailed 5-7 and then 7-14 and egged on by the partisan crowd, the Indian ace narrowed the leeway by sending the German rival to the base with quick flicks and then winning the point with drop or smash winners. The Indian ace narrowed the lead to 16-17 before her rival hit a purple patch in time and ran away with the opening game in 19 minutes when Saina hit the bird wide.
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