Hyderabad, Aug 27: Rising shuttler P V Sindhu stole the show with a hard-fought win over World No. 3 Germany's Juliane Schenk as Awadhe Warriors sailed into the semi-finals of the inaugural Indian Badminton League (IBL) with a clinical win over Pune Pistons, here Monday (August 26).
After Sindhu and K Srikanth won their respective women's and men's singles matches, it was Marcis Kido and Mathias Boe who outplayed Pune Pistons pair of Arun Vishnu and Sanave Thomas in men's doubles to give Warriors an unassailable 3-0 lead in their final league match at the GMC Balayogi Indoor Stadium. Warriors won the tie 3-2.
Sindhu and Schenk engaged in an attritional battle before the Hyderabadi-girl pulled off a sensational upset win in two tight games. A capacity, vociferous home crowd egged on the 18-year-old as she prevailed over her opponent 21-20 21-20. Schenk edged ahead in the first game with a 7-4 lead but Sindhu narrowed the gap to 7-6.
The World Championships bronze-medallist Sindhu overtook Schenk for the first time as she took a two point lead at 9-7, having won five points on the trot after the break. Schenk clawed her way back to 13-12 as the players went into the second break at 14-12.
The seasoned German campaigner did not allow Sindhu to score easily as her powerful forehand shots kept the score even at 16-16. Both fought tooth and nail for every point as the game was evely poised at 18-18. Schenk made a service error and gave an opening to Sindhu but she failed to make use of the opportunity as the fate of the two hung in the balance at 20-20.
Schenk missed a backhand and the result went in favour of the Indian. In the second game, Schenk gained an early lead at 3-1 but soon fell behind to 3-5. The German, however, responded strongly with her cross-court smashes to leave Sindhu trailing at 6-11.
The gap grew to seven points as Schenk extended her lead to 16-9. But Sindhu scripted a remarkable recovery to claw her way back into the game. At 19-17, Sindhu rode on her smashes and better placements to restore parity at 19-19. At 20-20, it could be anybody's game but a smash beyond the reach of Schenk ended the nail-biting contest in favour of Sindhu.