Mumbai: Hyderbad Hotshots were crowned champions of the inaugural edition of the Indian Badminton League (IBL) when they defeated Awadhe Warriors 3-1 in the final, on Saturday.
K. Srikanth gave the Warriors an unexpected 1-0 lead winning the opening match against his Thai rival S Tanongsak 21-12, 21-20. But unfortunately that turned out to be the Warriors’ only success of the final.
Hotshots’ star shuttler Saina Nehwal brought her team on level terms by trouncing her young challenger PV Sindhu in the second match.
Saina, who had beaten the taller Sindhu when the two met earlier on August 15 in the league stage, smashed and dropped her way with impunity to win the one-sided contest 21-15, 21-17 in just 35 minutes.
Thereafter, it was all about the Hotshots. The men’s doubles pair V Shem Goh and Khim Wah Lim made it 2-1 for the Hotshots when they beat Warriors’ Markis Kido and Mathias Boe 21-14, 13-21, 11-4. Hotshots clinched the trophy when Ajay Jayaram outclassed RMV Gurusaidutt 10-21, 21-17, 11-7. With an unassailable 3-1 lead, the last match, which was supposed to be a mixed doubles encounter, was not played.
Earlier, Srikanth shocked Tanongsak, 19 places above him in the world, in 38 minutes to put the Warriors 1-0 ahead.
Srikanth, who is also from the Pullela Gopichand Academy, rattled his much higher ranked Thai opponent with his aggression both in front ourt and back and completed his shock triumph in 38 minutes.
After trailing his rival initially, the Indian youngster caught up with his All England semi-finalist opponent at 4-4 and then led all the way to win the first game 21-12 in 14 minutes. Srikanth, ranked 38th in the world, was also the superior player at the net while also executing some brilliant cross court jump smashes.