Saina Nehwal won her fourth match in a row as Hyderabad Hotshots beat Mumbai Masters 3-2 to open a two-point lead at the top of the Indian Badminton League table. The world No 4 beat PC Thulasi 21-7, 21-10 in a one-sided encounter.
Mumbai are second on 13 points.
Hyderabad's Ajay Jayaram may have lost the opening match against Lee Chong Wei, but he provided enough reason for Indian fans to keep an eye on his rise in the sport.
Jayaram lost a close first game 19-21 against the world No 1, but completely ran him down 21-11 in the second game — with Lee looking slightly surprised at the tremendous fight. However, the Mumbai icon player showed his worth, upping his game to leave Jayaram with no chance in the final game — winning it 11-5.
Hyderabad immediately brought the match to 1-1, as Saina made short work of Thulasi. India's top shuttler gave the 22-year-old no chance.
But there was more cause for celebration for an unusually animated Saina in the team area. The duo of Shem V Goh and Khim Lim Wah beat Sumeet Reddy and Manu Attri 11-21 21-16 11-9 in the men's doubles game to give her team a 2-1 lead before S Tanongsak beat Marc Zwiebler 21-19 17-21 11-6 to put the match out of reach for Mumbai (at 3-1).
The pair of Pradnya Gadre and Arun Kona fell 18-21, 19-21 to Vladimir Ivanov and S Reddy, but Hyderabad will be happy to win the top of the table clash and lead Mumbai.
Nehwal spoke of her admiration for the Pune crowd after the match, saying: "It feels so good to win all the matches I have played so far. I came here for the World Championship last time and got the same support from Pune. I am glad to once again make my fans in Pune happy."
Earlier, Jayaram, who is ranked 24th in the world, seemed unfazed with his match against Lee and went on the attack from the first point itself. He cracked Lee's usually impenetrable defence to score some quality smash points and was agile at the net too.
In fact, such was Jayaram's energy in the first game, that he was in the lead 19-18 before losing three consecutive points.
However, the second game was another story. Jayaram's confidence, evidently on a high after he beat world No 12 Wing Ki Wong at the World Championships and 5th ranked Tien Minh Nguyen in the IBL opener, scampered to a 5-1 lead and never looked back.
But despite his brave effort, Lee's quality proved too much and the Malaysian recorded his third win on the trot in the tournament.
First Published On : Aug 23, 2013 07:35 IST