Saina Nehwal lost to reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin but her side Awadhe Warriors still beat Hyderabad Hunters in a Premier Badminton League encounter at the Gachibowli indoor stadium in Hyderabad on Monday.
As Hyderabad lost the men's doubles, which was their Trump Match, they had to sacrifice the one point they secured from Marin's victory over Saina, and so the scorline of 5-0.
Awadhe's Wing Ki Vincent Wong set the ball rolling for his team's victory in the first match of the day (men's singles) with a win against Hyderabad's B Sai Praneeth.
Sai Praneeth, who is ranked well below his rival from Hong Kong, put up a strong fight and pulled off a win in the first game. Sai Praneeth is ranked 36, while Wong is ranked 17.
However, Wong came back strong into the match and won the second game 11-6. The third game, marked by long rallies between the two shuttlers, was a see-saw battle and Wong had the last laugh with a 13-11 win.
The second match, the women's singles between Saina and Marin, was the most awaited contest of the day.
Saina, who recently recovered from a knee injury, fought hard in the first game and the remarkable rallies between the two was a treat for the spectators. Marin won the first game 15-14 and went on to dominate the second game also. Saina put up a stiff resistance in the second game, but that was not enough to stop the Spaniard.
Marin won the second game 11-5.
Noting that it has been a "a difficult journey" for her following the injury, Saina said: "I think it was a difficult journey for me from injury. I am happy to be playing. She (Marin) played yesterday and she is used to the conditions. I am happy that I am coming back.”
Marin thanked the spectators for their enthusiastic support to her.
"Thank you very much. This is an amazing crowd. I could feel their support. I am still recovering from an injury. I am happy with my performance during PBL," she said.
Awadhe Warriors received a boost to its chances with its pair of Savitree Amitrapal-Bodin Isara clinching a comfortable 11-9 and 12-10 win in the mixed doubles match against Hoi Wah Chau-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy of Hyderabad Hunters.
Awadhe secured two points as the mixed doubles match was their Trump Match.
Awadhe's Kidambi Srikanth confirmed his team's victory in the tie with a hard fought 11-13, 11-7, 13-11 win against Hyderabad's Rajiv Ouseph.
With the win depending on the outcome of the third game, the two players left nothing to chance and the spectators were literally on the edge of their seats. Srikanth, however, pulled off a sweet 13-11 win in the third game.
With Awadhe leading the match 4-1, the last match (men's doubles between V Shem Goh-Markis Kido of Awadhe and Hyderabad's Boon Heong Tan-Wee Kiong Tan) was rendered inconsequential as the host team would have got only two points even if it were to win.
Image: Carolina Marin