Win or lose, Saina Nehwal steals the limelight. But on Thursday, it was Ajay Jayaram who won hearts with a heroic display, albeit in a losing cause, against World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Mumbai Masters.
Hyderabad Hotshots star Nehwal bundled out her Mumbai Masters opponent PC Thulasi 21-7 21-10, eventually helping her team to a 3-2 win over Masters at the Balewadi Sports Complex here on Thursday.
Jayaram received maximum applause for his superb effort against Wei in the first men’s singles encounter. The Bangalore-based shuttler had gained confidence with his recent win over World No. 7 Nguyen Tien Minh of Pune Pistons. The same reflected in his game as he started off well, employing the smash to good effect. His fearless approach made it 11-11.
However, a few unforced errors spoiled his chances. Though Jayaram was leading 19-17, Wei brought his experience to the fore and won the first game 21-19.
In the second game, Jayaram changed his strategy and focused on keeping the rallies longer. The move paid off and Wei struggled to find an answer to Jayaram’s skills and the Indian won 21-11.
In the decider, Jayaram was still banking on the game plan that fetched him the second game. But Wei countered him to take a crucial 9-5 lead. A couple of unforced errors from Jayaram gave the Malaysian victory.
In the day’s second tie, Awadhe Warriors of Lucknow won their first tie of the league by registering a 3-1 win over Delhi Smashers. K Srikanth, PV Sindhu and RMV Gurusaidutt won their singles matches.