Hyderabad: Rising star P V Sindhu stole the show with a hard-fought win over world No. 3 Juliane Schenk of Germany, as Awadhe Warriors enthralled the home crowd sailing to 3-2 victory against Pune Pistons here on Monday.
The victory assured them of a semi-final berth in the inaugural Indian Badminton League.
After Sindhu and K Srikanth won their respective singles matches, it was Marcis Kido and Mathias Boe who outplayed the Pune Pistons pair of Arun Vishnu and Sanave Thomas in men's doubles.
Their victory gave Warriors an unassailable 3-0 lead, in their final league match at the GMC Balayogi Indoor Stadium here.
However, Pune’s Nyugen Tien Minh pulled off a consolation victory against RMV Gurusaidutt 21-12, 21-18 in the second men’s singles.
The difference was narrowed further when Pune Pistons’ duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and Joachim Fischer Nielsen beat Marcis Kido and Pia Zebadiah Bernadet of Awadhe Warriors 21-16, 21-14 in mixed doubles.
But by then, their fate was already sealed.
Sindhu and Schenk were engaged in battle of attrition before the Hyderabadi-girl pulled off a sensational upset win in two tight games.
A capacity, vociferous home crowd egged on the 18-year-old, as she prevailed over her opponent 21-20, 21-20.
Schenk edged ahead in the first game with a 7-4 lead, but Sindhu narrowed the gap to 7-6. The World Championships bronze-medallist Sindhu overtook Schenk for the first time as she took a two-point lead at 9-7, having won five points on the trot after the break.
Schenk clawed her way back to 13-12 as the players went into the second break at 14-12.
The seasoned German campaigner did not allow Sindhu to score easily as her powerful forehand shots kept the score even at 16-16. Both fought tooth and nail for every point, as the game was evenly poised at 18-18.
Schenk made a service error and gave an opening to Sindhu but she failed to make use of the opportunity and the score went to 20-20. Schenk missed a backhand and the result went in favour of the Indian.
In the second game, Schenk gained an early lead at 3-1 but soon fell behind to 3-5. The German, however, responded strongly with her cross-court smashes to leave Sindhu trailing at 6-11.
The gap grew to seven points as Schenk extended her lead to 16-9.
But Sindhu scripted a remarkable recovery to claw her way back into the game. At 19-17, Sindhu rode on her smashes and better placements to restore parity at 19-19.
At 20-20, it could be anybody’s game but a smash beyond the reach of Schenk ended the nail-biting contest in favour of Sindhu.
“I have played against Schenk twice but this is the first time I won the game and am feeling really happy. Also I am thrilled and touched to see my college friends and teachers who have come here to support me,” said Sindhu after her match.