If not initially, the second semifinal tie in the Indian Badminton League here on Thursday became interesting later. It went down to the wire and Markis Kido and Pia Z Bernadet clinched the issue for Awadhe Warriors over Mumbai Masters by a 3-2 margin. They beat Tine Baun and Vladimir Ivanov 21-19, 21-15 in the deciding mixed doubles tie. Warriors will thus take on Hyderabad Hotshots in the final on Saturday.
What made the tie somewhat interesting was the vociferous cheering from the sparse crowd, which included cricketers Vinay Kumar, Stuart Binny, Bharat Chipli and former stars GR Viswanath and Sunil Gavaskar (the co-owner of Masters).
The crowd was more than happy to see Lee Chong Wei give Masters a good start. His rival RMV Gurusaidutt ended up fighting the Malaysian and the crowd.
Lee was in a world of his own. Against Gurusaidutt, he did not have to use much of his game. The Malaysian resorted to a lot drops and dribbles that the Warriors’ player found hard to retrieve. But there were a couple of instances when Gurusaidutt paid his rival back in the same coin. That was when Gurusaidutt resorted to net play.
In the first game, Gurusaidutt did not trail Lee by too much but the latter had the confidence of control. While that saw Lee clinch the first game rather easily at 21-15, the second was a sail-through for him. Lee hardly broke a sweat and, with a 21-7 win in the second game, put Masters up 1-0.
The women’s singles match between Masters’ Tine Baun and Warriors’ PV Sindhu was expected to be a stiff one. But it turned out to be just a tad better than the first men’s singles. It looked pale in comparison to the league match the two played here last week. Sindhu took advantage of reigning All-England champion Baun’s lacklustre movement around the court. Baun, at times, looked amateurish with some of her shots. That said, it only made Sindhu’s work a lot easier as the Indian got some very good placements with crosscourt pushes. It was just not Baun’s day.
Sindhu had no trouble in both games and led comfortably in both games. While Baun stayed slightly close to Sindhu in the first, the Indian just pulled away in the second and wrapped up the match 21-16, 21-13. This brought levelled the tie 1-1.
The men’s doubles match went the Warriors’ way with Markis Kido and Mathias Boe beating Sumeet Reddy and Pranav Jerry Chopra 21-15, 21-10. But Masters’ Vladimir Ivanov beat K Srikanth 21-20, 21-19 to make it 2-2. But Kido and Bernadet ensured the win for Warriors.
Results: Awadhe Warriors bt Mumbai Masters 3-2 (Lee Chong Wei (MM) bt RMV Gurusaidutt (AW) 21-15, 21-7; PV Sindhu (AW) bt Tine Baun (MM) 21-16, 21-13; Markis Kido/ Mathias (AW) Boe bt Sumeet Reddy/ Pranav Jerry Chopra (MM) 21-15, 21-10; Vladimir Ivanov (MM) bt K Srikanth (AW) 21-20, 21-19; Kido/ Pia Z Bernadet (AW) bt Baun/ Ivanov (MM) 21-19, 21-15).