The IBL finals which saw Hyderabad Hotshots face off against the Awadhe Warriors boasted a tough game all around with an overall score of 3-1 with the Hyderabad Hotshots taking home the gold.
After a month of electrifying badminton matches, the inaugural edition of the Indian Badminton League came to an end at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. And what an evening it was! Days after the league table kept getting smaller with some surprising knockouts and some predictable ones, Hyderabad Hotshots and Awadhe Warriors were the two teams that made it to the finals.
The NSCI stadium, located opposite the Haji Ali sea face, looked brilliant, lit up with bright lights, fantastic sound and decorative flags all over. The games were well organised, unlike most sporting events -- there were ushers and security guards helping those who couldn't find their way.
Soon after we entered the stadium, the teams got together on their respective sides and discussed strategies and tactics which would ensure that it would be a nail biter till the very end.
Â The first men's singles, started off with S Tanongsak representing the Hyderabad Hotshots versus K Srikanth of Awadhe Warriors. The match between the two seemed like anyone's game until halfway into the first set, Srikanth dominated it winning the first set with a score of 21-12.
In the second set, Srikanth again seemed to dominate the game until a surprising and fantastic comeback from S Tanongsak brought the score to a tie, making it 20-20. However, the Srikanth had lady luck on his side and managed to win the last point making the final score 21-20. This made the overall score, 1-0 in favour of the Awadhe Warriors.
The women's singles, a game most fans were waiting to watch started next. Both captains of their respective teams, PV Sindhu of Awadhe Warriors and Saina Nehwal of Hyderabad Hotshots were huge variables which would affect the outcome of the overall scores. The crowd cheered ecstatically as they reached the court, showing their support for their favourites.
Saina, the bigger favourite in the tournament, had already beaten Sindhu earlier and was on fire with six consecutive match wins under her belt already. In the first match itself Siana kept her cool, and managed to hold a 3-4 point lead throughout the set beating Sindhu with a final score of 21-15.
In the second match Sindhu still couldn't find her form and Saina once again dominated the second set and her lead kept increasing until the game looked like a completely one-sided one, where Saina brought Hyderabad Hotshots back into the game with a final score of 21-7. This made the overall score, 1-1, making it harder for Awadhe Warriors by taking away their lead.
Next up came the men's double, with V Shem Goh and Khim Wah Lim of Hyderabad Hotshots going against Markis Kido and Mathias Boe of Awadhe Warriors. The fist game was ended much faster with smashes being played more than light feather touches and Hyderabad Hotshots took the lead winning the first set, with a score of 21-14.
Markis Kido and Mathias Boe of Awadhe Warriors stepped their game up and eventually beat V Shem Goh and Khim Wah Lim of Hyderabad Hotshots 21-13 to take the tie to the decider. The tie-breaker was an intense match with both teams giving it their all but it was V Shem Goh and Khim Wah Lim of Hyderabad Hotshots that emerged victorious with a final score of 11-4. Making the overall score, 2-1 giving Hyderabad the advantage.
The second men's singles was a crucial one for both teams. It was Ajay Jayaram of Hyderabad Hotshots versus RMV Gurusaidutt of Awadhe Warriors, with the Awadhe Warriors desperate for a win if they hoped to stay in contention for the championship.
In the first match it looked like they got their wish, as Gurusaidutt wiped the floor with Ajay Jayaram winning it with a score of 21-10. Gurusaidutt took the lead in the second game as well, keeping a good point distance. However Ajay made a fantastic comeback and even though Gurusaidutt played well, Ajay played better winning the second match with a score of 21-17.
The tie-breaker was crucial at this point. If Hyderabad won they would win the tournament. And sure enough Ajay Jayaram had found his flow, he was unstoppable in the third round as the crowd energetically yelled out synchronised cheers for the young player. He won the third set rather easily, with a final score of 11-7. Making the overall score, 3-1 and winning Hyderabad Hotshots the championship.
The crowd cheered filling the whole stadium with joyous applause as the Hyderabad Hotshots' fans lent their support to their team. The long tournament had ended with a impressive showing from both teams and many surprises throughout the evening.
Here are some of the Tweets of avid fans who followed the matches.
Superb recovery by Ajay Jayaram to win 2nd game against ailing Guru Sai Dutt. All eyes on 3rd game now.. #IBL_OFFICIAL
— Amey Chitre (@AmeyChitre) August 31, 2013
sindhu overawed by the occasion ... feel she should have counterattacked ... anyway she will only emerge stronger from this #IBL_official
— Rahul Johri (@rahul_johri) August 31, 2013
Congrats #HyderabadHotShots #IBL
— aravind uppala (@aravinduppala) September 1, 2013
Congratulations hyderabad #IBL team.. party time for d city pple... woooo
— Rohit patel (@brutusrohit) September 1, 2013
Awesome Hyderabad Hotshots:) First ever winners of the #IBL No one can ever change that now:)
— Rahul Ravindran (@23_rahulr) September 1, 2013
I'm sure #IBL will catch up with #IPL in coming years: #SainaNehwal @NSaina #India #badminton http://t.co/PP4I0P5xfM pic.twitter.com/GCn1tbvUlS
— Debajit Adhikari (@AdhikariDebajit) September 1, 2013
Congrats to #Saina !! She remains undefeated in the #IBL
— ??????? ? (@PrekshaPreks_) September 1, 2013
Congrats to @HydHotshots on winning inaugural season of @IBL_Official !! #IBL
— Abhi N. (@imabhi2809) September 1, 2013
Enjoyed a brilliant game last night! #IBL finals in action: Saina vs Sidhu pic.twitter.com/bEiBCgTLYo
— ankita sapre (@ankisaps) September 1, 2013
#Saina Nehwal establishes her supremacy.#IBL seems 2 be d best thing 2 have happened 2 Indian Badminton. Many more champs will emerge.
— Amitabh Kant (@amitabhk87) September 1, 2013
#BondwithBadminton was trending all over Twitter India, as people began to use the hashtag to digitally promote Badminton as well as show their passion for the game.
Super night #IBL2013 with people that love sports @girishmallya @Decloned_iTaz @Dimaagi_keeda @varungrover @ashwinmushran #BondWithBadminton
— Rebecca Vaz (@bakingtray) September 1, 2013
Great time at the #IBL2013 finals with @bakingtray @Decloned_iTaz @girishmallya & @varungrover #BondWithBadminton @NSaina rocked it
— Ashwin Mushran (@ashwinmushran) August 31, 2013
At the #IBL2013 finals. Such a super Rush to watch a competitive sport in a stadium #BondWithBadminton
— Rebecca Vaz (@bakingtray) August 31, 2013
Time to #BondWithBadminton The Game deserves to be one of d Main sport in our country with many corporates supporting it @NSaina @KonaTarun
— TARUKA (@TarukaSrivastav) August 31, 2013