Mumbai Masters’ move to field its singles players in the deciding mixed doubles rubber backfired, as Awadhe Warriors exploited exhaustion and injury to win the second Indian Badminton League here on Thursday. Despite a game effort, Mumbai’s Vladimir Ivanov and Tine Baun lost to Markis Kido and Pia Bernadet to give the Lucknow franchise a 3-2 victory.
Ivanov, who had to play back-to-back matches, looked spent. Tine Baun, who strained her hamstring during her singles match, found it difficult to cover the court in the paired event.
Earlier, Lee Chong Wei got the better of Warriors’ Guru Sai Dutt in a match which played out more like a ‘skills challenge’ affair.
The two were involved in a private battle — mostly dominated by Wei — to gauge who possessed the best range of extravagant shots.
The puzzled crowd watched the duo trade delicate drops at the net, before moving back to begin a test to see who could finish with the flashier smash.
At one stage, Wei, the World No.1, casually walked across the court to make a return, as if to suggest that his opponent simply posed no threat. The Malaysian eventually won with a 21-15, 21-7 scoreline.
P.V. Sindhu put it across Denmark’s Baun in more conventional fashion, to bring the scores level. The Warriors’ icon player was clearly quicker than Baun, who also struggled with unforced errors. The 34-year-old fell to Sindhu for the second straight time, while the latter notched up her fourth successive win in the IBL.
The men’s doubles went Warriors’ way, with a 21-15, 21-9 win for Markis Kido and Mathais Boe. All loose returns were brutally put awayby the lanky Boe and the clash proved to be a test of survival for B. Sumeet Reddy and Pranav Jerry Chopra.
The Indians were not given many chances to go for the kill as their opponents wisely kept them close to the net with slow, low dribbles.
In the second men’s singles match, K. Srikanth time and again clawed his way back to stay alive against a fiery Ivanov but eventually lost 20-21, 19-21.
The Russian nearly blew away big leads in both games as Srikanth fearlessly pulled out telling smashes when the pressure was on. Srikanth, ranked 38 in the world, however, wore down Ivanov (ranked 41) ahead of the crucial mixed doubles.
An unbelievably energetic Kido — he did double duty as well — then carried the Awadhe Warriors through.
The results: Awadhe Warriors bt Mumbai Masters 3-2 (R.M.V. Guru Sai Dutt lost to Lee Chong Wei 21-15, 21-7; P.V. Sindhu bt Tine Baun 21-16, 21-13; Markis Kido & Mathias Boe bt B. Sumeet Reddy & Pranav Jerry Chopra 21-15, 21-9; K. Srikanth lost to Vladimir Ivanov 21-20, 21-19; Kido & Pia Bernadet bt Ivanov & Baun 21-19, 21-15).