Favourites Hyderabad Hotshots moved into the semifinal despite a shock 2-3 defeat at the hands of bottom-placed Banga Beats in the last league match of the Indian Badminton League here on Tuesday night.
In the first singles, Tanongsak Saemsomboonsuk of Hotshots quelled the challenge from the ‘local favourite’ P. Kashyap of Banga Beats to give a winning start.
In front of a capacity crowd the 23-year-old Tanongsak’s ability to score big points under pressure was clearly the decisive factor.
The normally flamboyant Kashyap, known for his big smashes, was often stunned by the opponent’s ease in essaying those delectable returns from both flanks.
What clearly proved crucial was the big lead Tanongsak grabbed early in both games. Though Kashyap picked up some points to reduce the gap in both the games, he ran into Tanongsak’s stunning mix of big smashes and brilliant net-play. Even a service fault at 18-15 did not rattle the remarkably cool Tanongsak, who eventually clinched the battle with a splendid smash — a shot, which he later said, he would love to remember for a long, long time.
There was a deafening roar when Saina Nehwal entered the arena for the women’s singles match against the World No. 8 Ying Tai Tzu.
The Chinese Taipei girl came up with a terrific display — especially in the second game — when she outsmarted Saina with a series of impressive rallies, often pinning her to the baseline and then playing some delectable drops to take extend the issue to the decider.
The 19-year-old Ying was in no mood to give up. But, she failed to read the deep cross return from Saina at 8-9, and that saw a major shift in momentum. Not surprisingly, Saina did not waste much time forcing Ying to play a net drop and the latter placed it out to surrender the match. Despite the two early losses, Banga Beats came back strongly to level the scores 2-2, with the men’s doubles pair of Carsten Mogensen and Akshay Dewalker scoring a 15-21, 21-15, 11-1 win over Goh V Shem and Lim Khim Wah. Then, World No. 9 Jan O. Jorgensen outplayed Ajay Jayaram 21-11, 21-8.
The results: Banga Beats bt Hyderabad Hotshots 3-2 (P. Kashyap lost to Tanongsak Saemsomboonsuk 20-21, 18-21; Ying Tai Tzu lost to Saina Nehwal 17-21, 21-14, 8-11; Carsten Mogensen & Akshay Dewalkar bt Goh V Shem & Wah Lim Khim 15-21, 21-15, 11-1; Jan O Jorgensen bt Ajay Jayaram 21-11, 21-8; Carsten Mogensen & Aparna Balan bt Tarun Kona & Pradnya Gadre 18-21, 21-16, 11-9).