PBL: Saina Nehwal helps Awadhe Warriors beat Bengaluru Top Guns

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Lucknow, Jan 6: India's ace shuttler Saina Nehwal notched up a thrilling three-game win in Awadhe Warriors' trump match to guide her team to a comfortable win over Bengaluru Top Guns in the Premier Badminton League (PBL) here today.

Mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Kim Wah Lim and men's singles player Sameer verma won their respective matches to give Benguluru a 2-0 lead but Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand notched up a stunning win over Kidambi Srikanth in a Benguluru's Trump match to bring Awadhe Warriors back into the contest at 1-1.

A file picture of Saina Nehwal

World No.2 Saina then defeated Suo Di of Thailand in their trump match to take an unassailable 3-1 lead over Bengaluru Top Guns in the five-match tie. Starting the proceedings, Ashwini and Kim eked out a thrilling 15-13, 11-15, 15-13 win over Bodin Issara and K Maneesha to start Bengaluru's campaign on a positive note.

"The match was an absolute thriller and we are happy to win this one. Our opponents came back strongly in the second set and we were trailing in the third set, but we fought brilliantly in the last and opened our account with a win in tonight's Tie," Ashwini said after the match.

Sameer then stunned Sai Praneeth 15-13 15-14 in a gruelling men's singles contest to make it 2-0 in Bengululu's favour. In a pulsating contest, Sameer played his heart out and engaged in a gruelling fight as he moved together till 8-7 before Sameer moved into a 12-10 lead.

But Praneeth drew level with two points. Sameer then raised his game and moved into game point when Praneeth hit long. Praneeth saved one with an exception cross court smash. But Sameer pocketed it when Praneeth hit out again.

In the second game, Sameer lead 8-4 at the break but Praneeth turned the tables to lead 11-5. However, Sameer bounced back to make it 11-10. Praneeth then curtailed his errors to move to game point at 14-11.

Sameer kept fighting to save three game points by varying the pace in the rallies to take the game to the deciding point. At 14-14, Sameer grabbed the match when Praneeth found the nets as Bangalore lead 2-0.

In the second men's singles, Bengaluru placed their faith on Srikanth in their trump match but Tanongsak stunned the World No.9 15-11 15-8 to reduce their lead to 1-1. Srikanth lagged 6-8 in the first game but he soon drew level at 10-10 and then wrested control.

But the left handed player played an extraordinary shot to draw level and again lead at 12-11 with a net play. With Srikanth struggling Thai wrapped up the match at 15-11. Saensom lead 8-5 in the second game.

Srikanth made it 6-8 but Thai moved into the match point when the Indian failed to connect to a low return. Srikanth saved two but Thai sealed it when Srikanth hit long to complete 15-11 15-10 win.

At 1-1, Saina took the court for Awadhe Warriors' truth match and the Olympic bronze medallist registered a 15-10, 13-15, 15-8 win over Sou Di to seal it for Warriors. In the fourth match, Saina took time to get off the mark.

She lagged behind initially before drawing parity at 6-6. She moved into the lead at 8-6 at the break. Saina continued her good run after the interval and moved into the game point when the Chinese girl's weak return found the net.

Sou then could not reach for a forecourt return as Saina wrapped up the opening game. Sou then stepped on the gas to lead 8-4 but Saina narrowed it down to 13-14 before Sou roared into contest by winning the second game. However, Saina had the last laugh when she wrapped up the game comfortably in the end.

PTI

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