Hyderabad, Aug 29: Hosts Hyderabad Hotshots beat Pune Pistons 3-0 in the first semi-final here Wednesday and sailed into the maiden final of the Indian Badminton League (IBL).
Ajay Jayaram gave the home side a 1-0 lead at the Gachibowli Stadium as he pulled off a surprising victory over top-ranked Tien Minh Nyugen 21-17, 21-11 in the first match.
Star shuttler Saina Nehwal then survived some anxious moments before beating her arch-rival Juliane Schenk 21-10, 19-21, 11-8 in a tight contest. The win gave Hyderabad Hotshots a crucial 2-0 lead.
The men’s doubles pair of V.Shem Goh and Wah Kim Lin in the finished off the contest in favour of the Hotshots as they beat Joachim Fischer and Sanave Thomas 21-10, 19-21, 11-8.
In Sunday’s final in Mumbai, Hostshots will face the winner of the second semi-final between Mumbai Masters and Awadhe Warriors.
While it was an easy outing for Jayaram, World No.4 Ahad to put up a tough fight against Juliane, world No.3.
It turned out to be a top contest that was marked by long rallies, powerful smashes and drop shots as both tried to outsmart each other.
“I lost my focus in the 2nd game and was unable to retrieve few shots. Schenk also changed her shots little bit which became quite dangerous. But I just thought about winning for a few seconds and got myself back in action to win the match,” Saina said after the match.
Jayaram said he was suffering from injury Tuesday and rested the whole day before the match.
“It was not a miracle overnight. I was suffering from an injury yesterday and rested the entire day, which really worked well and I won the match. I also changed my strategy against Tien Ming Nyugen,” he said.