Awadhe Warriors did not have the best of starts to their home leg as they suffered a 1-2 loss to Hyderabad Hunters. They have, however, made a stunning return and are back to winning ways after thrashing Mumbai Rockets 5-0 in their second home tie. The Anup Sridhar-coached unit certainly made the most of their home advantage in what was their third tie of Premier Badminton League 2020.
The Warriors did not have the ideal start as their Mixed Doubles pair of Ko Sung Hyun/Christinna Pedersen lost 9-15 14-15 to Kim Sa Rang/Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth of Mumbai Rockets in straight sets.
Pia used the front court to great effect and it was an easy first game for the visitors. The next game, however, went down to the wire as both Hyun and Pedersen got into the groove. It took a sizzling 33-shot rally for the deciding point in the second game, which Mumbai won. The crowd at the Babu Banarasi Das U.P. Badminton Academy was electric and got behind Awadhe Warriors despite this loss in the first match.
Beiwen Zhang stepped up next to play the trump match for Awadhe Warriors against Kuhoo Garg. The American ace demolished the inexperienced Indian and grabbed the first set 15-3. Zhang made short work of Kuhoo in the next set as well to win it 15-4. This encounter was a no-contest and 21-year-old Garg was made to run all around her court on will. Awadhe Warriors raced to a 2-1 lead overall by virtue of this win in the important trump match.
The next encounter was between Wong Wing Ki Vincent and Mumbai's Parupalli Kashyap. It was the trump match for the visitors. The first game was going neck and neck with the score tied at 7-7 at one stage. Soon after, the 29-year-old Hong Kong International unleashed his best and put Kashyap on the back foot with a string of smashes.
Vincent won the first game 15-8. The ace Indian player reduced the unforced errors in the second game and the score was tied at 9-9 in an evenly contested duel. However, Vincent displayed some terrific net play and kept his cool. He rallied on to win the second game 15-10 and seal the deal. With this win, the Awadhe Warriors took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie as both the trump matches were now played out.
Ajay Jayaram extended Awadhe's lead by winning his singles match against Lee Dong Keun. The experienced Indian shuttler lost the first game 12-15 but was quick to read Lee's game and turned the tables in the next two games. The Chennai-born player absolutely decimated his Korean opponent to win the last two games 15-6 15-7. Ajay's win put Awadhe in a handsome 4-0 lead.
For Mumbai, the Men's Doubles encounter was all about saving grace and taking home a point but Awadhe Warriors were determined to complete the whitewash. The crowd had their monies worth as Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Cheol of the Warriors took on Mumbai's Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang in a high-octane all-Korean encounter.
Jung and ever-smiling Rang were down 3-9 in the first set but showed tremendous perseverance to win it 15-14 eventually. The fast exchanges between the ace shuttlers were a treat to the eyes.
Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol bounced back by winning the second game 15-10. The visitors made quite a few unforced errors in the second game and the tie went to the deciding game. Both pairs traded hefty blows and the third game was tied at 14-14. In what was undoubtedly one of the best matches of PBL 2020, the South Korean pair of Awadhe Warriors won the decider point to win the match 2-1 and complete the whitewash.
With this win, Awadhe Warriors now have a total of 10 points on board and rise to 2nd on the points table while Mumbai Rockets are in 6th position with 5 points cumulatively.