Masters to test Warriors mettle
The somewhat unimaginative scheduling of the Indian Badminton League matches has come as a blessing in disguise for badminton buffs in the Garden City. For, they will get a second opportunity to see world No 1 Le Chong Wei of Malaysia in action, as Mumbai Masters meet Awadhe Warriors in the second semifinal on Thursday.
Except for Delhi, Lucknow and Pune, the other three cities, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai have not hosted all teams. So Lee Chong Wei did not play in Hyderabad. Similarly, Bangalore have been denied the chance to see Ashwini Ponnappa and Hyderabad Hotshots’ Saina Nehwal.
Ironically, Bangalore was the launchpad for Saina as she played in the junior tournaments here and reached her first senior national final in 2008, losing to Aparna Popat.
With no break between the last league game and the semifinals, the organisers could not swap the semifinal ties between Hyderabad and Bangalore. That essentially means that the two teams, Mumbai Masters and Awadhe Warriors, who played their league fixture here on August 24, will return to familiar environs as they fight for a place in the final.
Lee Chong Wei is immensely popular and said as much after the game, though his team lost 2-3 to the Lucknow outfit. He would be more than happy to lead his team to victory.
World No 12 Marc Zwiebler of Germany and No 41 Vladimir Ivanov of Russia among men and Tine Baun of Denmark, the women’s No 11, apart from Lee cut no ice as the PV Sindhu-led Warriors battled to a 3-2 victory.
Lee and Ivanov did win their men’s singles ties but Sindhu and the unbeaten doubles pair of Markis Kido and Mathias Boe made it 2-2 before Markis Kido and Pia Z Bernadet combined to claim the mixed doubles.
Awadhe Warriors may change their men’s singles players and bring in Malaysian world No 13 Weng Fe Chong as Gurusaidutt and K Srikanth lost. Yet, Mumbai Masters have the edge and if they can win either the women’s singles or the mixed doubles, they might as well extract revenge.
The two league clashes witnessed huge crowds and the semifinal will be no different as the Sree Kanteerava Stadium will reverberate with the cries of Lee Chong Wei... Lee Chong Wei....