The celebratory mood of Independence Day reflected in the sharp increase in the number of spectators on the second day of the Vodafone Indian Badminton League (IBL). Of course, the biggest attraction for the holiday crowd was the high profile clash between star shuttler Saina Nehwal and rising star P.V. Sindhu.

After the poor turnout on the opening day, the enthusiasm of general public outside the Siri Fort Stadium Complex here on Thursday caught the organisers off-guard. Many people were seen wandering around without any clue as to where to buy tickets. Those who managed to get in watched world No. 4 Saina overcome a stiff challenge from Sindhu for a 21-19, 21-8 win in the women’s singles to help Hyderabad Hotshots grab a 2-0 lead against Awadhe Warriors.

Eventually, Hyderabad defeated Awadhe 3-2 to gather four points. Awadhe got two points. After Saina took an early two-point lead, she committed some unforced errors. Sindhuintensified her attack and showcased her range of fine drop shots to take a four-point lead. Saina caught up with her taller opponent to make it 9-9, but Sindhu relied on her swift movement and well-executed low smashes to stay 15-10 ahead just after the second breather. Saina reworked her strategy to unleash some excellent power-packed shots, mostly directed at Sindhu’s body, to change the course of the game. Sindhu, who lifted the shuttle too high on certain instances, found it difficult to free her hand as Saina collected seven straightpoints. Sindhu made an effort for a late fightback, but Saina was too determined. The Olympic bronze medallist bagged the first game through a smash to Sindhu’s left. The second game did not have the same intensity as Sindhu misjudged on several occasions and gave away easy points. She stayed alive in the match as she capped a long rally with a lucky point to make it 5-7.

However, Saina was in no mood to let Sindhu recover and wrapped up the game quickly. She tossed her racquet to the cheering fans in the stands and left the court with a wide smile.

Saina, however, complimented Sindhu. “The way Sindhu plays, I am sure she has a bright future…She gave me a tough time in the beginning. But the cheers from the crowd really helped me. I hope to live up to the expectations of the crowd and my team,” said Saina.

Early lead

Earlier, world No. 19 Saemsomboonsuk Tanongsak rallied to beat R.M.V. Gurusaidutt, placed a rung below the Thai, and give Hyderabad an early lead. The duo of Mathias Boe and Markis Kido kept Awadh afloat by getting the better of V. Shem Goh and Khim Wah Lim in the men’s doubles match. K. Srikanth beat Ajay Jayaram in the second men’s singles as the Lucknow team drew parity with Hyderabad.

In the decider mixed doubles encounter, Goh and Pradnya Gadre recorded a thrilling win over Kido and Taerattanachai Sapsiree tobring cheers to the Hyderabad camp.

The results: Hyderabad Hotshots bt Awadhe Warriors 3-2 (Saemsomboonsuk Tanongsak bt R.M.V. Gurusaidutt 15-21, 21-14, 11-9; Saina Nehwal bt P.V. Sindhu 21-19, 21-8; V. Shem Goh and Khim Wah Lim lost to Mathias Boe and Markis Kido 14-21, 20-21; Ajay Jayaram lost to K. Srikanth 17-21, 19-21; V. Shem Goh and Pradnya Gadre bt Markis Kido and Taerattanachai Sapsiree 21-9, 19-21, 11-8).

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