The thrill of a tight finish is becoming a little too predictable in the Vodafone Indian Badminton League (IBL).
A fourth tie in succession was decided through the last mixed doubles match as Krrish Delhi Smashers got the better of Hyderabad Hotshots 3-2 at the B.B.D. Academy complex here on Saturday.
Delhi collected four points from its first win to take its tally to six from two ties. Hyderabad too has six points.
Delhi, which made four changes to its team, spoilt a fine opportunity to go 1-0 up as B. Sai Praneeth lost to Saemsomboonsuk Tanongsak in three games.
Praneeth displayed his court craft to grab points in the closely-fought affair. Tanongsak’s unforced errors also contributed to Praneeth’s success. However, the Thai shuttler showcased some exquisite drop shots and smashes to stay in contention till 19-19. Praneeth got closer to snatch the first game through a quick shot close to the net. Tanongsak saw his backhand return find the net and Praneeth took the break with delight.
In the second game, the Thai player excelled with fine placements. Despite his mistakes, Praneeth played some impressive shots, including a wristy cross court one following a spectacular rally, to stay in the hunt.
The Indian, however, faltered to allow Tanongsak take the game and eventually the match.
Saina Nehwal recorded one of the fastest wins of the IBL so far as she crushed an unheralded Arundhati Panthawane, who replaced Nichaon Jindapon, in 28 minutes. Arundhati gave a spirited performance early in the match but soon ran out of steam.
Saina found her rhythm and amassed 13 consecutive points to take the contest out of her rival’s reach.
Saina continued to torment Arundhati with her court coverage, drop shots, smashes and net game to finish off the second game in just 12 minutes. Delhi’s world No. 2 men’s doubles specialists, Kien Keat Koo and Boon Hoeng Tan, lived up to their reputation.
They combined power with deft touches to place the shuttle well and earn points against V. Shem Goh and Tarun Kona.
The Hyderabad pair competed well by engaging the elite Malaysian duo in a few fast and entertaining rallies before accepting defeat.
Fans of former World and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, who came in the place of H.S. Prannoy, were left disappointed as the Indonesian star went down to Daren Liew in a lopsided contest. Hidayat had said before the start of the IBL that people should not expect too much from a retired player like him.
Against a younger Liew, Hidayat struggled due to his restricted movement as the Malaysian won the second men’s singles.
Delhi’s trick to field V. Diju and Prajakta Sawant in the place of Koo and G. Jwala paid off. Diju and Prajakta blocked a strong challenge from Goh and Pradnya Gadre to win the mixed doubles match 21-20, 21-15.
The results: Hyderabad Hotshots lost to Krrish Delhi Smashers 2-3 (Saemsomboonsuk Tanongsak bt B. Sai Praneeth 19-21, 21-19, 11-7; Saina Nehwal bt Arundhati Panthawane 21-6, 21-8; V. Shem Goh and Tarun Kona lost to Kien Keat Koo and Boon Hoeng Tan 14-21, 20-21; Taufik Hidayat lost to Daren Liew 10-21, 7-21; V. Shem Goh & Pradnya Gadre lost to V. Diju & Prajakta Sawant 20-21, 15-21).