Riding on a bit of kismet and pluck Ajay Jayaram closed out the crucial match against R.M.V. Gurusaidutt in three games. This win paved the way for Hyderabad Hotshots to beat Awadhe Warriors 3-1 and clinch the Vodafone-IBL title on Saturday.
Saina Nehwal who had brushed aside the challenge of P.V. Sindhu underscored the importance of this win saying: “I’m a singles player. Frankly speaking I was a little scared of playing the last doubles (paired with V. Shem Goh) match because Pia (Bernadet) and Kido (Markis) are world number. 9. I was just ready to give my best. It was good we pulled it off in the second men’s singles. It would have been a tough match because Pia and Kido had edge against us. When Ajay lost the first game I was little tense that it could come to the mixed. But the way he played in the second and third was brilliant. We were happy with his result because it was the main match for our team.”
Saina also said that the Hotshots did not expect its men’s doubles air in Shem Goh and Lim Wah Khiom to beat a superior team in Kido and Mathais Boe. “They are great champions. But at the same time our pair did really well.”
On a personal note Saina said she was pleased to win seven matches in the league. “It is not easy to win a Super Series title. I try my best. Of course, it is not easy to win seven matches in a row. I was very focused and confident of pulling off matches. There were opponents like like Tai Tzu Ying, Juliane Schen and Sindhu. I never thought I would win seven matches. But I’m really playing well and getting back my rhythm. I just hope to end the year on a good note, winning some titles.”
She said there has been many positives for a number of Indian players in the IBL. “If you see the results, there has been a lot of improvement, especially (Kidambi) Srikanth. He really played well. I just hope that more talented players emerge.”
Almost everyone closely connected with the IBL has been amazed by the response from the spectators. So was Saina. “I was also really surprised by the turn out at Mumbai, Delhi and Lucknow. They came to cheer us up. When something new starts, there could be some glitches. No one expected IBL to be so successful. It is not right to compare IBL with IPL at this point of time because IPL is itself a great thing. We have never seen such a big crowd during the nationals. I think the publicity was very good. Big-time badminton has arrived in India. The players were doing well, this small encouragement was required and it came at the right time because of IBL. I expect the Chinese players to play the league next year. It would be good for us and for them. The foreign players are really happy because for the amount of money that has come in.”