It is never easy to step on to the court as a stand-by to a champion like Saina Nehwal, who for the second match in-a-row in this edition opted to sit in the dug-out.
But, the 22-year-old Rituparna Das responded in style winning the crucial trump match for North Eastern Warriors and help the team drub two-time finalists Mumbai Rockets in the Hyderabad-leg of PBL-4 at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
The issue was decided 4-1 in favour of Warriors even before World No.12 Sameer Verma of Mumbai took on former Asian Games silver medallist Tian Houwei in the penultimate match of the evening.
Warriors was off to a convincing start with the mixed doubles combine of Ha Na Kim and Liao Min-chun getting the better of Pia Zebadiah and Kim Gi Jung.
Then, it was the turn of World No. 55 Tanongsak Saensmboonsuk of Warriors to score a shock win over World No. 18 Anders Antonsen in what was the trump match for Mumbai.
For someone who was outplayed in the first game, Antonsen fought back remarkably in the second game with some telling smashes and often pushing the rival to the flanks to pick points.
In the decider too, Antonsen was leading 7-4 before his game drifted apart. A stroke of luck too favoured the Thai player Tanongsak at 9-11 when his return saw the shuttle roll over the net gently.
Then, a service-fault by Tangongsak gave a breather to the opponent but soon Antonsen himself committed a service-fault to the delight of the Warriors camp.
Soon, Tanongsak came up with a couple of big smashes to turn the tables and win the match.
In the women’s singles, Ritu scored a creditable win over Shreyanshi Pardeshi. What was pleasing was the way she changed gears in the decider after the scores were tied 11-11.
At 14-12, Ritu did give some hope to the opponent with a service-fault but was quick to recover as to her delight the opponent’s returns were erratic and soon finished off the contest in style with a down-the-line smash.
Late in the evening, it was officially disclosed that Saina had decided to take rest due to shin injury.
|The results: North-Eastern Warriors bt Mumbai Rockets 4-1 (Kim Ha Na & Liao Min Chun bt Pia Zebadiah Bernadet & Kim Gi Jung 15-6, 15-13; Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk bt Anders Antonsen (T) 15-9, 10-15 15-11; Rituparna Das (T) bt Shreyanshi Pardeshi 12-15, 15-10, 15-12; Tian Houwei lost to Sameer Verma 6-15, 13-15; Liao Min Chun & Yoo Yeon Seong lost to Kim Gi Jung & Yong Dae Lee 12-15, 15-13, 7-15)|