Gutsy Saina seals it for Warriors

Gutsy Saina seals it for Warriors

New Delhi: Saina Nehwal was far from her best. An ankle injury had kept her out of action for over three weeks. Against the reigning Commonwealth Games champion Michelle Li, she quickly found herself at sea.

But the fighter that Saina is, she battled her way to 6-15, 15-13, 15-13 victory and sealed the tie for Awadhe Warriors against North Eastern Warriors in Premier Badminton League here on Saturday. Awadhe won 4-3 at the Sirifort Sports Complex.

Before Saina turned up, Awadhe were up 3-0 and one win away from clinching the contest. Their mixed doubles pair of Christinna Pedersen and Tang Chun Man, playing the Trump, were pushed to the wall by North Eastern's Kim Gi Jung and Prajakta Sawant before they eked out a 15-14, 15-13 victory. Parupalli Kashyap then outclassed Ajay Jayram 15-9, 15-12 to consolidate Awadhe's lead.

Saina arrived amidst much cheer but it soon quietened down as Li ran away with the opening game. However, in the second, Saina exhibited better defense and a determined show in rallies to  push the contest to the third game.

The former World No  1 was at her attacking best in the decider, unleashing a flurry of smashes, and showing keen anticipation. With good court craft, she opened up a 7-1 lead. But Li, better on speed, clawed her way back to draw level at 11-11. Errors from Saina saw her conceding lead at 12-13, but she clinched the last three points to let out a roar of relief.

"I couldn't play for 3.5 weeks because of ankle injury. I was stiff in the first game and LI played really well. I couldn't react well. But I really wanted to win to get some confidence. I got my rhythm in the second and third games. I moved well, but I am still a bit sluggish, " said Saina, who had missed the opening game against PV Sindhu in Guwahati.

Srikanth falters

It was now upto Kidambi Srikanth to stretch Awadhe's unbeaten 4-0 lead. He, however, lost to Tzu Wei Wang 15-10, 9-15, 6-15, and North Eastern logged their first points. North Eastern then went on to win their Trump match when Jung and Shin Baek Cheol beat Hendra Setiawan and Man 15-10, 15-12 and narrowed down the gap.

Results: Awadhe Warriors bt North Eastern Warriors: Mixed doubles: (Trump match for Awadhe Warriors): Christinna Pedersen/Tang Chun Man bt Kim Gi Jung/ Prajakta Sawant 15-14, 15-13, Men's singles: Parupalli Kashyap bt Ajay Jayram 15-9, 15-12, Women's singles: Saina Nehwal bt Michelle Li 6-15, 15-13, 15-13, Men's singles: Kidambi Srikanth lt Tzu Wei Wang 15-10, 9-15 , 6-15. Men's doubles (Trump match for North Eastern Warriors) Hendra Setiawan/Tang Chun Man vs Kim Gi Jung/Shin Baek Cheol: 10-15, 12-15.  

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry