Only a small crowd turned up for the opening day of the IBL,but they got to watch a competitive tie that went down to the wire. Nihal Koshie jots down first impressions:
Some of the team owners were surprised that the 4,200-seater Siri Fort arena didn’t fill up. “I received only 10 passes and was told that tickets were all sold out,” said Pune Pistons owner Mohit Burman. Ashish Chadha,CEO of Sporty Solutionz,which owns the commercial rights of the IBL,said that 85 per cent of the tickets had been sold out for the opening round. The low turnout,he surmised,might have been because of heightened security on the roads in the run-up to Independence Day,which might have put people off going to the stadium.
With two one-minute breaks in the first two games of each match,players get extra time to catch their breath. This,some say,could lead to more attacking play. “The two breaks could encourage players to smash a lot more and rallies could get shorter,” said Pune’s German veteran Juliane Schenk,who produced an array of smashes to beat Thailand’s Nichaon Jindapon 21-15,21-6. IBL governing council member Pullela Gopichand noted another factor: “The third game is only 11 points so they won’t have to conserve energy for a long third game.”
Hard to predict
Delhi’s Sai Praneeth produced the first upset of the tournament in the opening match,beating Pune’s World No.7 Tin Minh Nguyen 21-16,21-20. Both players received inputs from coaches they normally wouldn’t be associated with. The Vietnamese Nguyen had former India players Nikhil Kanetkar and Anup Sridhar helping him courtside. Praneeth,meanwhile,could pick the brains of Malaysia national coach Rashid Sidek,who works with World No.1 Lee Chong Wei. “Coach Sidek has a lot of experience,especially when it comes to the games of players from South-East Asia and China. His advice did help me today against Tin Minh,” Praneeth said.
RESULTS: Delhi Smashers were level with Pune Pistons 2-2 ( Sai Praneeth (DS ) bt Tin Minh Nguyen (PP) 21-16,21-20; Juliane Schenk (PP) bt Nichaon Jindapon (DS ) 21-15,21-6; Boon Hoeng tan/Kien Keat Koo (DS) beat Rupesh Kumar/Sanave Thomas (PP) 21-13 21-16 Sourabh Varma (PP) bt HS Prannoy (DS ) 21-16 19-21 11-5