HYDERABAD:It was the face-off Indian fans were waiting for. Ever since PV Sindhu (Chennai Smashers) clashed with Spaniard Carolina Marin (Hyderabad Hunters) in the Rio Olympics final last year, their encounters have generated a frenzy that has the potential to be one of the greatest in the sport. Their latest duel came in the second edition of the Premier Badminton League.
And it overshadowed all other encounters. There is little doubt that Sindhu is the favourite child of Hyderabad right now. But the city crowd was in no mood to support her when she took on world and Olympic champion Marin at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Sunday.
The lanky Indian displayed her array of attacking shots but that wasn’t enough to tame the 23-year-old Spaniard who donned a red jersey of the home team. Sindhu lost a hard-fought encounter 8-11, 14-12, 2-11.
All this while, the sea of red in the stadium could be heard chanting “Marin Marin”. The decider was dealt with in a flash, as there was little Sindhu could do to outsmart the Spaniard. “The crowd was key to my win,” a jubilant Marin said. “She (Sindhu) looked really nervous from the start. It was fun playing in the 11-point format for the first time.”
While the modified format is fast-paced and keeps the spectators and players on their toes, at least one of the players sounded a bit sceptical. “It was like I did not get a chance to breathe during my time on the court,” said Jwala Gutta of Delhi Acers.
“It’s good in a way, but there are no second chances. By the time you think you’re back in the game, it is already over,” Gutta told Express. But she was quick to add the positives. “The best thing about the league is that so many youngsters get a chance to play alongside legends of the game, which would take them years otherwise.”
But, most appeared to be ecstatic about the format. “I think this concept is really really interesting, especially with the crowd screaming. It is a good package,” exclaimed Gabrielle Adcock of Smashers.