The local badminton buffs got their money’s worth as Pune Pistons secured an emphatic 4-1 win over Banga Beats in the $1 million Vodafone-IBL on Friday.
Over 3000 spectators filled the venue at the Balewadi sports complex and cheered the home team on. The Pistons put the Beats under immediate pressure, pocketing the first two singles matches in straight games.
The host sprang a big surprise by fielding Anup Sridhar, and the former two-time National champion ran out a straight game winner against World No. 6 Hu Yun of Hong Kong in 37 minutes.
Juliane Schenk made it 2-0, putting in a workman-like display against Spain’s Carolina Marin.
Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Kiong Tan Wee settled the issue shortly afterwards with a solid performance in the men’s doubles before Saurabh Verma became the second giant-killer of the evening, scoring a hard-fought three game win over Kashyap.
Carolina Marin and Carsten Morgensen gave Banga Beats something to cheer as the pair beat Ashwini Ponnappa and Joachim Fischer Nielsen 20-21, 21-14, 11-8 in the last tie.
The tactical deployment of players has been a standout feature over the last eight-nine days.
The Pistons may have opted for the 30-year-old Sridhar because Vietnamese Tien Minh Nyugen has been woefully out of form, and the Beats also gambled on Hu Yun as the first singles player ahead of Kashyap.
Coach Vimal Kumar and the selection group felt that Yun, with a superior ranking, would emerge a clear winner against Sridhar.
But the latter used his height and overhead smash to good effect right through the match and scored 12 points in winning rallies.
He won 10 points at the net, but it was clearly the smash-shot that helped him gain three points from 16-all in the second game.
Even after the splendid win over a world class player, Sridhar said, “I don’t think I played my best game, but a few shots really helped me win the match. I love the Pune crowd, they are simply awesome. We need this spirit to go on till the end of the league.”
Ten years older than her rival, Juliane entered the fray with a 0-2 record against Carolina.
Quite nimble on the court, the left-handed Spaniard showed poise and skill at the net to recover from 1-7 in the first game and levelled the scores at 20.
She, however, was outplayed by a near faultless Juliane in the second.
The results: Pune Pistons bt Banga Beats 4-1 (Anup Sridhar bt Hu Yun 21-12, 21-18; Juliane Schenk bt Carolina Marin 21-20, 21-10; Joachim Fischer Nielsen & Kiong Tan Wee bt Cartson Mogensen & Akshay Dewalkar 21-18, 21-18; Saurabh Verma bt P. Kashyap 19-21, 21-18, 11-4; Ashwini Ponnappa & Joachim Fischer Nielsen lost to Carolina Marin & Carsten Morgensen 20-21, 21-14, 11-8).