Saina-Sindhu set for Independence Day clash

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) Badminton fans are set to witness an Independence Day clash between India's two top women's singles shuttlers Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu in the inaugural Indian Badminton League (IBL) at the Siri Fort Sports Complex here Thursday.

It will be the first time the two players will be facing each other in a competitive match. While Saina will be playing for her home team Hyderabad Hotshots, Sindhu will be representing Awadhe Warriors on the last day of the Delhi-leg of the $1 million tournament.

Sindhu, 18, recently won the World Championship bronze, the third instance for India, and is riding high on confidence. For the 23-year-old Saina, it has been a year since winning the Olympic bronze in London and being the senior she will be looking to stamp her supremacy.

Both hail from Hyderabad and train under national coach Pullela Gopichand, who has already said that he won't be anywhere near the stadium when the two girls fight it out.

Sindhu, however, played down the media hype surrounding the clash and said: "Saina is a great player. It will be exciting to play against her. She is experienced and playing very well. I will just play my game and give my 100 percent."

Gopichand remained diplomatic and said it was not about "Saina or Sindhu but Saina and Sindhu".

"I always tell it openly that when both of them are shuttling, I am nowhere in the stadium. It is then up to them. I just wish in years to come, they will play a lot of finals against each other, so we are assured of gold and silver, irrespective of who wins or loses," said Gopichand.

However, opinions are divided on who will win the battle.

Doubles specialist and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jwala Gutta feels Sindhu has the edge.

"It's always good to have somebody new winning. And Sindhu is riding high on her world championship bronze. So, it will be good to see Sindhu giving a good performance on Thursday," she said.

World No.17 Parupalli Kashyap, who will be playing for the Bangalore team Banga Beats, feels Saina has the experience.

"Sindhu will no doubt be fresh from her worlds performance, but Saina has more experience. It will be a tough fight no doubt, but I will give more percentage of victory to Saina because she is more experienced," he said.