|Pune Pistons’ Juliane Schenk
Pune: Banga Beats’ hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the Indian Badminton League went up in smoke after they lost their must-win match against hosts Pune Pistons 0-3 at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi on Friday.
It was a Bangalorean who started the demolition of Banga Beats with Anup Sridhar notching up an upset 21-12, 21-18 victory against Hu Yun in the first men’s singles to give Pune a 1-0 lead.
World No. 3 Juliane Schenk put it across Carolina Marin 21-20, 21-10 in the women’s singles to take Pune to a commanding position.
Trailing 0-2, Bangalore’s Carsten Mogensen and Akshay Dewalkar then took the court but lost 18-21, 18-21 against the experienced pair of Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Kiong Tan Wee which allowed the Pistons to take an unassailable 3-0 lead.
The second men’s singles and mixed doubles matches between Pune and Bangalore have now been rendered inconsequential. “We are in good form and we have a good chance to win the tournament. It’s the fans who helped us with their cheers. It is great to win at home,” Wee said after the match.
Earlier, Anup was 1-4 down, but the Bangalorean fought back brilliantly and entered the first break leading 7-5 in the opening game. The 30-year-old then rode on his powerful smashes to outwit Yun and lead 14-7 at the second break, before comfortably pocketing the first game.
World No. 8 Yun once again surged ahead in the second game and lead 7-6 at one stage but Anup did not wilt under pressure and kept breathing down his neck at 12-14 in the second break. The current world No.129 Indian produced a number of powerful smashes to get back into the lead even though Yun was equally remarkable with his game. In the end, it was the Indian who had the last laugh.
“I don’t think I played my best game, but a few shots really helped me win the match. I love the Pune crowd, they are simply awesome. We need this spirit to go on till the end of the League,” Anup said after the match.
In the second match, Juliane dominated the proceedings early on and opened up a 7-1 lead against Carolina. The world No. 19 fought back and narrowed down the lead to 10-14 at the second break.
The Spaniard stepped up the pressure on her more experienced rival, but in the end it was Juliane who managed to eke out a close win in the first game. The second game was an intense neck-and-neck battle as Juliane took a narrow 7-6 lead. However, the German stepped on the gas and led 14-7 at the second break.
Carolina’s game crumbled after that as she could gather only three points, while Juliane zoomed ahead comfortably in the end.
Post her win, Juliane said: “I have been trying to give my best to the league from the beginning. I knew today’s match was tough and therefore I had prepared myself well in advance. This planning helped me win over Carolina.”
In the men’s doubles, Mogensen and Dewalkar had a slow start but they changed gears soon after lagging 5-7 against Nielsen and Wee at the first break.
The duo locked themselves in an intense battle after that as they were tied 14-14 and then moved together till 18-18. Nielsen and Wee then grabbed two straight points and with the shuttle going wide from Bangalore side, it was advantage Pune in the first game.
In the second game, Nielsen and Wee once again lead 7-4 at the first interval. Cogensen and Dewalkar changed their game and gave good competition to make it 11-11 but the Pistons were still ahead 17-14. A net shot by Wee gave Pune two match points and with Dewalkar hitting out, it was all over for Bangalore.