|Lee Chong Wei, in Mumbai, on Monday
Mumbai: Spearheaded by Malaysian world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei who made a successful Indian Badminton League debut, Mumbai Masters clinched a 4-1 win over Krissh Delhi Smashers at the NSCI stadium courts, here, on Tuesday.
Lee, who joined Mumbai after missing the team’s first two away ties, eased his way past his compatriot Daren Liew before All-England women’s champion Tine Baun followed suit to provide a flying 2-0 start to Mumbai.
Lee, who missed Mumbai’s first two ties against Banga Beats and Pune Pistons as he joined the team just before this clash, raced away to a 21-12, 21-16 victory over Liew, ranked world No. 17, in 35 minutes to help the hosts take a 1-0 lead.
Tine Baun – who retired from international badminton after winning her third All-England title in March and is ranked 11th in the BWF rankings, crushed former national champion Arundhati Pantawane, ranked 54th, 21-11, 21-13 in just over half an hour to increase Mumbai’s advantage.
Delhi narrowed Mumbai’s lead to 2-1 when their top Malaysian men’s doubles world No. 4 combination of Kon Kiet Keat and Tan Boon Hoeng, rallied after dropping the opening game to defeat the young Indian duo of B Sumeet Reddy and Manu Attri 14-21, 21-15, 11-7 in the men's doubles match.
However, Mumbai’s gamble of fielding European champion Marc Zweibler instead of the successful Russian Vladimir Ivanov paid off. The German dropped his opening game against young Indian rival B Sai Praneeth, but went on to eke out a thrilling 18-21, 2-10, 11-9 win in the second men’s singles clash to give the hosts the winning lead with the mixed doubles match to follow.
Having sewed up the tie, Lee and Baun combined forces to clinch the last clash – the mixed doubles match – by overcoming Delhi’s pair of V. Diju and Prajakta Sawant 21-18 15-21 11-5.
This was Mumbai’s second victory in the league, having earlier defeated Banga Beats before losing to state rivals Pune Pistons.
The crowd, which included Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, saw 30-year-old Lee toying with Liew in the opening game of their men’s singles encounter that kicked off the tie.
But the 26-year-old Liew put up a much better fight in the second and led for a major portion before the world No. 1 surged into the lead at 14-13, ahead of the second break.