Vodafone Premier Badminton League: Saina Nehwal beats Beiwen Zhang

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh): Indian ace shuttler and world No. 10 Saina Nehwal pulled off a stunning 8-15, 15-10, 15-13 victory over World No.11 Beiwen Zhang of USA, on Thursday, helping Awadhe Warriors stay afloat in the tie against Mumbai Rockets in the Vodafone Premier Badminton League.

Mumbai currently leads duel 2-0 on points, and have three matches out of five in the tie.

The Hyderabadi shuttler was no match in the opening game against Beiwen, who perfectly tormented her with her superb cross-court drops and smashes.

Saina, known for her resiliency got back into the match and even though Beiwen was leading in the initial phases of second game, the Indian slowly turned the tides and went into break leading 8-7. She did not allow Beiwen any chance post the interval and wrapped up the game to restore parity.

In the final game, Saina did not let go off the opportunity to pounce on her opponent and gave her all into play. She made full use of the tiring US player and went into the break with a lead of 8-4. After the change of ends, even though Beiwen troubled the Indian with her impeccable net-play and saved three match points, it was Saina who eventually went on to win the match to send the packed stadium into rapturous celebration.

The match was at the BBD Uttar Pradesh Badminton Academy.

The tie is extremely crucial from Mumbai’s point of view as they are currently languishing at the bottom of the table with six points. A loss here means they will be virtually out of semifinals reckoning but a win with good margin will keep them alive in the race.

Earlier in the day, Sameer Verma picked up a comfortable 15-6,15-14 straight games victory against his compatriot Harshit Aggarwal to give Mumbai Rockets a huge 2 (-1) over Awadhe Warriors in this five match duel.

The young Harshit replacing Parupalli Kashyap in the line-up could mount any serious challenge on his senior pro and went meekly in the opening game.

He did try to make a comeback in the second game and even though was looking in better touch and took the game to wire, it was Sameer who sealed the deal with a smash.

In the first match of the day, mixed doubles pair of Lee Yong Dae/Gabriela Stoeva pulled off a major coup by beating Christinna Pedersen/Tang Chun Man 15-10, 14-15, 15-7 to give Mumbai the early lead into the tie. The match also saw Awadhe getting penalised with a point as it was their trump match.

In the opening game of the match, the Mumbai duo were quick off the blocks and gave their team an early 8-2 lead. They dominated the proceeding from the word go and even though Awadhe pair tried to show some resistance they sealed the game in no time.

Christinna/Tang made a terrific comeback and even though they were challenged to the hilt, they enjoyed a slim lead throughout the second game. The Mumbai pair stayed hot on Awadhe’s tail and down 12-14, they saved two game points to tie the score 14-14. With just a point needed, it could have gone either way but Lee Yong Dae found the nets allowing Awadhe to stay in the match.

With the match tied 1-1, Mumbai were in relentless mood and completely dominated the Awadhe pair to close the match with a huge margin.(ANI)