Bengaluru: World No.10 Beiwen Zhang made a remarkable comeback to beat Saina Nehwal as the Awadhe Warriors beat the North Eastern Warriors in a Premier Badminton League (PBL) tie at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday.
Awadhe needed a minimum of four points to move up to the top position and tie with the defending champions Hyderabad Hunters. And they got exactly that as Zhang cancelled the North Eastern Trump Nehwal while Ashwini Ponnappa and Mathias Christiansen got themselves the Trump victory. Lee Dong Keun also contributed a win but World No. 5 Son Wan Ho was shocked.
The women's singles face off between the North Eastern Warriors' Saina Nehwal and the Awadhe Warriors' Beiwen Zhang had a surprising outcome. The World No. 9 Nehwal was the higher ranked player in this encounter and even led 3-1 on the international circuit, but the 10th ranked Zhang refused to be intimidated by Saina's strong start and came back to win 11-15, 15-11, 15-7.
Given that the former World No. 1 was the Trump for the night for the team from the north-east, whatever little hopes they had of upsetting the Warriors were dashed.
While Saina's smashes were on point in the opening game, she went off the boil in the second. The American managed to lift her game from an 8-8 tie and did just enough to thwart a Saina comeback.
In the decider, she was pretty much unstoppable. The Zhang juggernaut rolled on uninterruptedly, building a 12-6 lead before finishing off the big win.
Former World No. 1 Son Wan Ho had won his last three BWF matches against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk. But just like going against the norm was the trend of the evening, Son Wan Ho too fell 8-15, 10-15 to the North Eastern shuttler in a tie full of surprises.
Tanongsak never relented in his attack and Son found it hard to tackle him. At one point in the first game, the Korean trailed 5-12. In the second, Son fought till 7-7 after which the game slipped away from his grip.
Lee Dong Keun of the Awadhe Warriors had never beaten Tian Houwei in two meetings on the international circuit. But the World No. 27 did not let his past record bother him and came thoroughly prepared to get a 15-10, 15-13 win.
The two were involved in some marathon rallies in the first half of the game. It was after the break that Keun made his move as Tian started erring, racing ahead to 11-8 and holding on it. The North-eastern shuttler kept it all even until 7-7 after which Lee's sharpness and mental fortitude helped him bag the win.
Mathias Christiansen and Ashwini Ponnappa have shown their wonderful chemistry this season, triumphing in three out of the five matches they have played. The Awadhe pair lived up to the expectations by securing the 15-7, 15-14 Trump win over Liao Min Chun and Kim Ha Na.
While the first game was a cakewalk for them, they had to dig deep in the second to come back from 9-11 down.