First and foremost, the crowd has been awesome so far. Encouraging. Enjoying. Electrifying. Out of all the badminton tournaments I've watched so far, IBL is the one having a lot of noise from the audience lounge. Be the noise is for any reason or for any side, most of the times it gives you energy to play faster. With that speed, It's up to the player if he or she reaches the win or loss. As I watch the match alone here, the same noise becomes my best companion. I thank the audience for the same.
The decider point...
As I write this line, it's another 20-20 point play between Kashyap from Banga beats and Srikanth from Awadhe Warriors in a men's singles match. Shot from Kashyap and the shuttle goes out of the court after a good rally. Umpire says that's out and Srikanth wins the first game of the match. That's the real excitement of this format of the tournament. In the normal format, when you are at match point, you can win the match or your opponent can pull it longer. But you will have your own chance to get back to the game. But with this format, when you are at match point you can either win or lose the game or match. I really hope none of the 11-11 point winners will disturb the sleep of the player on losing side. Unimaginable pain it would be if at all that happens when your team badly needs the win!
HH vs AW, MM vs BB and KDS vs HH
Hyderabad hotshots won it over the Awadhe warriors. The encouragement that Jayaram from HH and Srikanth from AW got by their respective teams and Icon players was amazing to look at. When a player like Saina sits behind you and shouts your name with full of her voice to encourage you, leave about the result of the match you will give your best and that's what needed.
Ivanov from Mumbai masters caused the first upset of the tournament for Kashyap from BB. For BB it was not that all, Ying beat Tine Baun in the women's singles. Another 2-2 tie ended with MM's win. Mixed doubles match is proved to be the decided for many matches so far. So the same with Delhi smashers too. Diju and Prajaktha won it for their team in another decider. An easy match for Saina from HH. She is the lady booming with all confidence at this point of time. And after her win against Sindhu she is looking even happier. Understandable too! KDS have not played Jwala. I like this girl's fire, her confidence and her body language. She is a killer both with her game and straight-talk. She must keep it up. For KDS, it was a much needed win.
Schenk, Ashwini and the women's doubles' ouster!
Juliane Schenk from Pune Pistons vs Tine Baun from Mumbai Masters was another equal header. Schenk has been one my favorite players in the world circuit. She is the lady with a lot of sportive spirit as much as I read her. She won the match against Baun in a three-gamer. Ashwini Ponnappa and Nielsen have done it again for their team in straight games. Ashwini's body smashes are my all time favorite ones by any doubles woman player. I'm still clueless why women doubles has been taken out of IBL. I'm completely against this decision. Whatever may be the reasons, I'm in no mood to get convinced at all! Women's doubles has seen a lot of historic contributions from India as well as from the world. Not sure why this was not part of IBL. It should have been!
BB vs AW, upset for Sindhu!
That's it for Srikanth for the day and for the Awadhe warriors as well. Kashyap has won it in style. The commentator kept on saying, that's called experience and it was very much convincing too. Your opponent may be racing ahead, but you never show the sign of upset and you always go for it. That's what shown by Kashyap who was deep under pressure after the first game loss. Srikanth played one of his best matches. A little more experience will improve his body language I guess. That as well reminds me another upsetter of the day, the loss of P.V. Sindhu. She is talented for her age. But she needs to improve a lot and lot when it comes to coming back to life in a losing match. Again, her body language today as well went completely down so was her game! Nothing to worry, she will learn it. Experience will make her learn everything provided she keeps up her learning mode wide open.
One observation I'd like to share here. What I saw in Saina and Kashyap during their earlier days was that they never used to give it up. They used to put back every fight till the end. It was their personal trait I guess. For Sindhu, now she has to learn it or rather improve it. How much she will succeed in developing the same will rule her career. At the international level all you need is the will power and mental strength to win crucial ties. May be, the attention that the eighteen year old is getting these days must be taking its toll. It will settle down. May that day come so soon.
IBL is going well, as expected. I hope it will turn pleasingly surprising to everyone involved. Success of this tournament is important for the Indian Badminton as well as for the world's. The best competition will emerge!