IBL action shifts to Lucknow, Saina Nehwal in spotlight

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Lucknow, Aug 17: Delhi Smashers would look to bring their campaign back on track when they take on high-flying Hyderabad Hotshots, while Pune Pistons would be aiming to maintain their winning run against Mumbai Masters in the second leg of the Indian Badminton League (IBL) here today (Saturday).

Led by Doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa, Pistons had notched up a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Smashers in the opening match of the USD one million tournament. But come tomorrow, the Delhi outfit would bank on the experience of their icon player Jwala Gutta to come good against the Hotshots, which boast of World No.4 Saina Nehwal and Taufik Hidayat in their ranks.

Saina Nehwal throws her raquet for the fans during IBL in New Delhi

The second derby of the day will witness battle between Pune and Mumbai, both of whom would look to consolidate their position on the points table after registering victories in their respective opening round ties. Mumbai had defeated Banga Beats 3-2 in their opening encounter while Pune got the better of Delhi by an identical margin during the first leg of the tournament at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi.

It is expected to be a rollicking affair when the Indian and international stars clash with each other at the BBD badminton academy here. Jwala and Saina, two of India's finest exponents and a force to reckon with in world badminton, will turn foes when they lead their respective teams.

Jwala is likely to pair up with either Boon Heong Tan and Kien Keat Koo of Malaysia in the mixed doubles event. The world number two Malaysian pair, who won the World Championships bronze and silver at Hyderabad and Paris in 2009 and 2010 respectively, is the biggest strength of the Delhi Smashers. For Hyderabad, Saina is undoubtedly the star attraction with the tag of the costliest female player at USD 120,000.

PTI

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