Hyderabad Hotshots,spearheaded by Indian badminton icon Saina Nehwal,brought down the high flying,unbeaten Pune Pistons in impressive style with a comprehensive 4-1 victory in the Indian Badminton League at the NSCI courts here tonight. The thumping victory also powered the Hotshots to the top of the league table with 11 points to their credit while leaving Pistons in second place with 9.
Saina provided the early spark to the Hotshots campaign against the league toppers by clinching the high quality women’s singles clash against her long-time German rival Juliane Schenk in a battle between two of the world’s top five players. Egged on by the partisan crowd chanting “Saina Saina”,the Indian world no 4 downed world no 3 Schenk 17-21 21-19 11-6 in 59 minutes after her compatriot and teammate Ajay Jayram shocked Vietnamese rival Tien Minh Nguyen,world no 5,21-19 21-8 in the opening men’s singles encounter in just 40 minutes.
Later,the Malaysian world no 2 pair of V Shem Goh and Wah Lim Khah subdued the challenge of India’s seasoned pair Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar 21-19 and 21-16 to give the Hotshots a winning lead in the best of five clash,their second victory in three ties,thus ensuring the Pistons’ first defeat in as many encounters.
Thailand’s S Tanongsak,a semi finalist at the All-England made it 4-0 for the Hotshots with a straight-game victory over Pistons’ Saurabh Varma. The left hander won 21-19 21-18 in the second men’s singles match. Pistons got a consolation victory as well as one point from the tie when their mixed doubles combination of Joaquim Fischer Nielsen and Ashwini Ponnappa downed Hotshots’ pair of V Shem Goh and Pradnya Gadre 21-11 21-14.