MUMBAI: World no 1 Lee Chong Wei and former womenís no 1 Tine Baun powered Mumbai Masters to a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Krissh Delhi Smashers in the Indian Badminton League at the NSCI Stadium courts here.
Lee, who missed Mumbaiís first two ties against Banga Beats and Pune Pistons as he joined the team just before this clash, raced away to a 21-12 21-16 victory over Liew, ranked world no. 17, in 35 minutes to help the hosts take a 1-0 lead.
Baun, who retired from international badminton after winning her third All England title in March and is ranked 11th in the BWF rankings, crushed former national champion Arundhati Pantawane, ranked 54th, 21-11 21-13 in just over half an hour to increase Mumbaiís advantage.
Delhi narrowed Mumbaiís lead to 2-1 when their top Malaysian menís doubles combination of Kon Kiet Keat and Tan Boon Hoeng, world no.4, rallied after dropping the opening game to defeat the young Indian duo of B Sumeet Reddy and Manu Attri 14-21 21-15 11-7.
However, Mumbaiís gamble of fielding European champion Marc Zweibler instead of the successful Russian Vladimir Ivanov came good as the German dropped his opening game against young Indian rival B Sai Praneeth before pulling up his socks to eke out a thrilling 18-21 2-10 11-9 win in the second menís singles clash and give the hosts the winning lead.
Having sewed up the tie, Lee and Baun combined forces to clinch the last clash the mixed doubles match Ė by overcoming Delhiís pair of V Diju and Prajakta Sawant 21-18 15-21 11-5.
This was Mumbaiís second victory in the league, having earlier defeated Banga Beats before losing to state rivals Pune Pistons. The home teamís points tally has risen to 11 while Delhi, who suffered their second loss, have 7 to their credit. The crowd, which included Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, saw 30-year-old Lee toying with his Malaysian compatriot Liew in the opening game of their menís singles encounter that kicked off the tie.
But the 26-year-old Liew put up a much better fight in the second game and led for a major portion before the world no. 1 surged into the lead at 14-13 ahead of the second break.
Lee did not play at his best, especially in the second game when his play was replete with errors in line judgment and strokes but it was enough for the 30-year-old Olympic and world championship runners-up to chalk out a straight-game win and take his head-to-head record against Liew to 3-0.
Liew has never taken a single game off Lee in their two previous international encounters last year at the Danish and Malaysian opens and appeared as if he might do so here before his senior compatriot struck a purple patch late in the second game and sealed off the hope.
Lee, who used his jump smashes and showed superb retrieval prowess against his Malaysian rival, was up 7-2 in the first game with Liew a bit error-prone.
The gap was narrowed by Liew to 9-12 when Lee netted a few shots but then the former was not consistent enough to keep the pressure on his fancied rival and quickly trailed 9-16 the last point won by Lee with a superbly executed deceptive drop.
Later, a smash winner gave Lee the game point and he sealed off the game after his rival saved a game point and then committed a service error. The game lasted 15 minutes.
ďGood match, itís great. I am very happy. This victory is very important for me and itís good to win points for the team against such a difficult team,Ē said Lee after his comprehensive win.
The womenís encounter between 34-year-old Baun and Arundhati was totally lop-sided as the 1.81- metre tall Dane, a former world no.1, simply overpowered her shorter rival by her quality of play in 31 minutes. . Baun won the first game in 14 minutes after grabbing 7-2 and 14-6 leads at the short breaks. A tap at Arundhatiís body put her on game point and then her rival smashed out to drop the opener.
The second game too went on similar lines though Arundhati managed to narrow the lead midway but once Baun tightened up her game again there was no stopping her. The last point was again conceded by Arundhati by smashing the Ďbirdí out.
ďI am very happy to win the match against Arundhati. I played with a cool mind and was not at all under any pressure.
My strategy was to be aggressive from the beginning and it paid off,Ē said Baun after scoring her first victory in three matches in the league.
Delhi narrowed the lead to 1-2 by winning the menís doubles encounter.
ďIt was a tense match and yes, itís a pleasure we managed to keep our nerves and beat them. We were a little too defensive and we played every shot with full energy as we did not want our team losing the third match of the day,Ē said their winning Malaysian duo after their hard fought win.
Then followed left hander Zweiblerís come-from-behind win over Sai Praneeth who fought tooth and nail before losing to the German.
The Indian youngster captured the opening game 21-18 in 14 minutes after taking a commanding 19-12 lead, but the Germanís fight-back in the latter stages got him into the groove for the latter part.
Zweibler dominated the net in the next game to level the score after 17 more minutes, leading to the tension filled decider which went neck and neck till the German was handed out a match point by Sai Praneeth with a flick over the baseline.
Zweibler squandered one match point by doing likewise but then leaped high in delight when he flicked to the baseline and Sai Praneeth drop hit the net. -PTI