Subhankar Dey oozed brilliance under pressure to take Awadhe Warriors to a thrilling 4-3 win against the North Eastern Warriors in their first tie of Premier Badminton League 2020 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium, Chennai on Thursday.
With the two teams locked at 3-3, it boiled down to the men’s singles face-off between Awadhe’s Dey and Thailand shuttler Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk to decide the outcome of the penultimate tie in the Chennai leg.
Dey had lost his solitary encounter on the BWF circuit to the Thai at the Malaysia Masters last year but this time he was fired up to hand his franchise the win. Showing tremendous anticipation skills, he was ready for every move Tanongsak made and took him out of his comfort zone. The result was a spectacular 15-9, 15-13 win that gifted the Awadhe brigade the victory at the end of an enthralling tie where every match was evenly contested.
Earlier, world No 18 Lee Cheuk Yiu continued his winning streak in the other men’s singles match of the day. Fresh from reaching the semi-finals at the Indonesia Masters, Lee carried on his scintillating form to deliver a second consecutive win for the North Eastern side, two days after upsetting World Championships bronze medallist Sai Praneeth.
In an exhilarating battle between two of Hong Kong’s best shuttlers, Yiu held his nerves and dug deep to see off his senior compatriot, Wong Wing Ki Vincent of Awadhe 13-15, 15-10, 15-11. Lee was initially troubled by Vincent’s aggressive show but once he found his rhythm, he was able to take the match away from the former World No 10. It was the trump match for NE Warriors and it gave them a 3-1 lead which was eventually overhauled.
Christinna Pedersen made a winning return to the league with a hard-fought win that had the crowd on the edge of their seats. The Danish star, who has two Olympic medals on her illustrious resume, had mesmerized her Indian fans with her exquisite touches in her two previous appearances for the Lucknow-based franchise.
This time it was no different. The former World No 1 showed her grit and tenacity in partnership with fellow former World No 1 Ko Sung Hyun to get Awadhe off to a tight 8-15, 15-11, 15-14 win over NE Warriors’ Bodin Isara and Kim Ha Na.
World No 14 Beiwen Zhang and World No 8 Michelle Li have a close rivalry that is tied 4-4 in the international circuit. And this time it was Li who put up a remarkable performance to see off Zhang 15-13, 15-14.
With the Guwahati-based franchise leading 3-1, it was all left to the Trump pair of Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol to bring Awadhe back into contention. Hyun’s partnership with former world champion Shin Baek Cheol yielded three titles last year and they weaved magic on the court once again to stave off a spirited challenge from NE Warriors’ Krishna Prasad Garaga and former world No 1 Lee Yong Dae to win 8-15, 15-14, 15-12.
The tie was then set up for the fired-up Dey to apply the finishing touches.