Kidambi Srikanth showed his rising stature in world badminton with a shock maiden victory over former world no. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, but could not prevent his team Bengaluru Top Guns from going down to Hyderabad Hunters 2-3 in the Premier Badminton League, here today.
Later, Chennai Smashers upset hosts Mumbai Rockets 4-3 by clinching the deciding fifth rubber when Indonesian former world no. 3 Simon Santoso got the better of India’s R M V Gurusaidutt in straight games in the victors’ trump game.
This was Mumbai’s first defeat after their win over Awadhe Warriors yesterday.
By the time Srikanth stepped on court to play against his Malaysian opponent Lee Chong, commanding the highest price of USD 100,000 in the League along with Indian woman stalwart Saina Nehwal, the tie against Bengaluru had been wrapped up by the Hyderabad team at the NSCI Sardar Vallabhai Patel indoor stadium.
The Hunters started on a losing note by dropping the opening women’s singles, but then made ample amends by clinching their trump game, the men’s doubles encounter, as well as the other men’s singles match-up won in straight games (15-14 15-13) by London Olympic Games quarter finalist Parupalli Kashyap against Sameer Verma, nominted as the trump by Bengaluru.
With a 3-0 lead after the first three games, Hyderabad could not lose the tie even if they lost the last two matches the mixed doubles clash and the prime slot face-off between Lee Chong and Srikanth.
And that was exactly what happened when Ashwini Ponnappa teamed up with Dane Joachim Fischer Nielsen to outsmart her regular women’s doubles partner Jwala Gutta and Markis Kido 15-13 15-13 to leave Srikanth to finish off the tie on a rousing note by upsetting Lee Chong.
Srikanth, currently the world no. 9, played aggressively against the Malaysian world no. 5 and pulled off a fine 15-12 6-15 15-7 win over Lee Chong Wei to whom he had lost four times at the international level and in the Indian Badminton League as it was named earlier in 2013.
“I’m very happy to beat Lee. It’s always great to beat someone that good,” said Srikanth who punched the court in glee after smashing his way to a memorable win in the last game in which he cantered home with a series of smashes close to the lines after taking an early 7-2 lead.