By many counts the epicentre of badminton in India, Hyderabad witnessed arguably the finest matches on the first day of its leg in the ongoing Pro Badminton League. The home side Hyderabad Hunters triumphed 2-1 against the North Eastern Warriors at the GMC Balayogi Sats Indoor Stadium on Wednesday.
Hyderabad Hunters started off the night with a win as the mixed doubles pair of Russian Vladimir Ivanov and N Sikki Reddy beat North Eastern Warriors’ Indo-South Korean pair Krishna Prasad Garaga and Kim Ha Na 15-12, 8-15, 15-12.
Sourabh Verma then ceded Hyderabad Hunters’ one-point advantage when he lost the trump match to Thai Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, 14-15, 14-15. The duo had faced each other twice before and had an even head-to-head record.
However, the North Eastern Warriors' shuttler held his nerve better than his Indian counterpart in the first game to take the deciding point after a tight contest.
The second game saw Sourabh Verma lead 9-7 and later 14-12 but the Thai was incredible with his defence and his sheer determination saw him take the final three points.
A shock defeat for PV Sindhu
Michele Li had a clear game plan to not allow Sindhu any room to get her smashes in place and she followed it meticulously. Displaying exemplary reflexes and some smart net play, the Canadian soon wrapped the first game.
The home favourite seemed to get her bearings back in the second game but surprisingly committed a number of unforced errors to allow her opponent to build a lead, something which she could not recover from and ended up disappointing the fans.
North Eastern Warriors lose trump match
The North Eastern Warriors had built a 2-1 lead after consecutive singles wins but they ended up taking the tie to the deciding fixture when the Thai-South Korean pair of Bodin Isara and Lee Yong Dae lost their trump match 7-15, 10-15 to Ben Lane and Vladimir Ivanov.
The North Eastern Warriors pair never looked to be in a position to win at any point during the match as the Hyderabad Hunters systematically dismantled them to pull things back in the tie.
The home team eventually won in the final fixture of the night when Malaysia’s Daren Liew comfortably won the men’s singles match against the North Eastern Warriors’ Hong Kong recruit Lee Cheuk Yiu, 15-9, 15-10.
Premier Badminton League points table
With this win, the Hyderabad Hunters have climbed off the bottom of the points table as their tally of six points puts them in sixth place, one ahead of the Mumbai Rockets. Meanwhile, the North Eastern Warriors lie in fifth place with eight points.Chennai Superstarz lead the table with 13 points, followed by the Awadhe Warriors with 10.
All the remaining matches of the franchise-based league will be played at Hyderabad, with the final set to take place on February 9.