Former champions Hyderabad Hunters bounced back from a disappointing loss suffered by world champion PV Sindhu to beat North Eastern Warriors 2-1 as the Star Sports Premier Badminton League moved to Hyderabad today. After the North Eastern Warriors’ World No. 10 Michelle Li stunned Sindhu at the GMC Balayogi Sats Indoor Stadium, Daren Liew took the Hunters to victory.
World No. 42 Daren Liew had never beaten the 2020 Indonesia Masters semi-finalist Lee Cheuk Yiu in four meetings earlier but this time he made no mistake. The Hunters player put in a commendable performance to inflict Yiu’s first defeat of the season in a 15-9, 15-10 win.
In front of a roaring home crowd that tried to perk up the world champion, Sindhu suffered an 8-15, 9-15 defeat to the North Eastern Warriors ace. Li’s plan of keeping Sindhu in the frontcourt worked out well as that prevented her from raining down her smashes. Showing quick reflexes and finesse at the net, she kept the home favourite on the backfoot right from the start, building a 9-6 lead. Sindhu tried to go for her smashes while trailing 7-13 but that was only a brief reprieve before the former Commonwealth Games gold medallist wrapped up the first game.
Sindhu looked more comfortable in the second game to keep things under control till 5-5. Unforced errors on her part then dashed whatever little hope she had of coming back. Li sailed ahead to 8-5 and allowed her highly accomplished opponent to take four more points before pulling off the upset win much to the disappointment of the spectators.
With Hyderabad’s Trump Sourabh Verma and Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk tied at 1-1 on the BWF circuit, their showdown was always expected to be a tight contest. In a brilliant game that tested the nerves of both the players, it was the North Eastern Warriors shuttler who passed with flying colours. His anticipation skills and quick footwork allowed him to take the opening game 15-14.
The second game turned into a nail-biting affair with both refusing to give the other any space. Hungry to level the match, Verma went up to 9-7 but Tanongsak’s stubborn defence kept things on par till 11-11. Amid vociferous cheers from the crowd, Verma raced ahead to 14-12 before the North Eastern Warriors shuttler showed exceptional resilience to save them and complete the 15-14, 15-14 win.
Earlier, in an enthralling start to the tie, Hyderabad’s mixed doubles pair of Sikki Reddy and Vladimir Ivanov delighted the crowd with a gritty 15-12, 8-15, 15-12 win against the Warriors’ Krishna Prasad Garaga and Kim Ha Na. In men’s doubles the Hunters duo of Ivanov and Ben Lane upset the Warriors Trump of Bodin Isara and Lee Yong Dae 15-7, 15-10.