| Sai Praneeth in action, on Wednesday |
New Delhi: The inaugural night of the million-dollar Indian Badminton League (IBL) at the Siri Fort Sports Complex, here did not exactly evoke the response one would have hoped for.
While the stands remained largely empty and the organisers failed to get their acts together on several counts, the world number one Lee Chong Wei’s absence further dampened the spirit.
However, the spectators were treated with some good badminton as Pune Pistons edged past Krrish Delhi Smashers 3-2 in a cliff-hanger. The credit for the victory would largely go to Joachin Nielsen Fischer (Denmark) and Ashwini Ponnappa, who held their nerves to beat Koo Kien Keat (Malaysia) and Jwala Gutta 21-19, 16-21, 11-3 in the deciding mixed doubles after the teams were tied 2-2.
What really disappointed the spectators was the absence of Lee during the opening ceremony. The organisers, however, said Lee will arrive on Thursday in time for Mumbai Masters’ match against Banga Beats.
The night’s first encounter between Delhi’s Sai Praneeth B and Tien Minh Nyugen of Pune was the best of the five-match contest. Pitted against the World Championship bronze medallist from Vietnam, Praneeth played some spectacular forehand shots to stun the favouritre 21-16, 21-20.
Not many expected the Hyderabadi to win against the world No. 7, who had Lin Dan in all sorts of trouble just a few days back.
“It was definitely an important win,” said Praneeth later. Praneeth’s hard work, however, was negated by Pune Piston’s Juliane Schenk in the next women’s singles.The German girl proved too good for Jhindapon Nichaon and won 21-15, 21-6.
In the next two matches, Delhi’s Tan Boon Hoeng and Koo Kien Kit beat Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas 21-13, 21-16 in men’s doubles and then Pune’s Saurabh Verma got the better of HS Prannoy 21-16, 20-21, 11-5 to make it 2-2.