Indian Badminton League off to a dazzling start
New Delhi: The million-dollar Indian Badminton League (IBL) on Wednesday kicked off with a glittering opening ceremony even as Krrish Delhi Smashers clashed with the Pune Pistons in the tournament opener.
It was a colourful show of laser lights, acrobatics, Bollywood songs and dance as the half-an-hour opening ceremony started the proceedings at the Siri Fort Sports complex.
Flags of different franchises were carried by women inside big bubbles and acrobatics were performed by artists who used big size circles and cubes to showcase their skills, enthralling the sparse crowd.
The stage was next taken by Neeti Mohan, who sang `jiyare jiyare` from the movie `Jab Tak Hai Jaan`.
Earlier, six players, including Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta and Parupalli Kashyap took oath before the Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Akhilesh Das Gupta who announced the tournament open.
Rising Indian shuttler B Sai Praneeth set the ball rolling for the Delhi Smashers with a stunning 21-16 21-20 victory over World No 7 Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam but the hosts lost the lead when Pune`s Julaine Schenk of Germany notched up an easy 21-15 21-6 over Nichaon Jindapon of Thailand in the second game.
However, as expected, World No.2 Malaysian combo of Kien Keat Koo and Boon Heong Tan gave Delhi Smashers the lead when they sent packing the Indian pair of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas 21-13 21-16 in the men`s doubles match.
Earlier, Praneeth lived up to his reputation of giant-slayer as he dished out an attacking game to unsettle Tien Minh, who won the bronze at the recently-concluded World Championship in China.
It was a brilliant display of defense and attack as Praneeth kept changing the pace of the game and was, infact, leading in most part of the opening game.
Tien Minh clawed his way back at 13-13 but Praneeth moved ahead at 18-15 with the help of his calculated pushes and some impeccable returns to pocket the first game.
The World No.37 Indian, who had spoilt Taufik Hidayat`s farewell at the Indonesia Open and stunned then world number six Hu Yun of Hong Kong in Singapore Open, showed good temperament and adjusted to the new scoring quickly.
In the second game, the Indian was lagging 10-14 but he didn`t lose his composure and soon caught up with the Vietnamese at 18-18.
He then went on to reach the match point at 20-19 but slipped while returning a shot on the forecourt to see the match level par at 20-20.
However, he did not let the opportunity slip away and clinched the next point to race away with the match.