HYDERABAD (TIP): Hosts Hyderabad stormed into the final of the inaugural Indian Badminton League with a thumping 3-0 win against Pune Pistons in the semifinals at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium. Ajay Jayaram gave his team rollicking start and Saina Nehwal pulled off a hard-fought victory to put Hyderabad in the driver’s seat. While Jayaram stunned world No. 5 Tien Minh Nguyen 21-17, 21-11, Saina sneaked past Juliane Schenk 21-10, 19-21, 11-8. Later, the men’s doubles duo of Goh V Shem and Wah Lim Khim downed Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Sanave Thomas 16-21, 21-14, 11-7 to steer Hyderabad into the summit clash.
Jayaram, who was suffering from a minor injury, came up with a spirited performance. Trailing 9-13 in the first game, Jayaram tested his rival with long rallies and succeeded in disturbing the rhythm of his opponent. At 13-14, Tien argued with the umpire on a couple of line calls, even though the shuttle had kissed the line. He lost his cool and committed a few unforced errors. Jayaram seized the initiative and powered ahead to 19-15 before closing at 21-17. Buoyed by the unexpected win in the first game, Jayaram was off in a flash in the second game. He opened with a 5-0 lead and never looked back.