The champions came home to a rousing reception - and then got to work
In the first game of the Hyderabad leg of PBL Season 4, the home team thrashed Chennai Smashers 5-0 - and that came despite home favorite PV Sindhu losing her match, Sung-ji Hyun.
Sindhu's see-saw battle with Hyun saw the first two games finish 15-13 to the Hyderabad Hunters star and 15-14 to Hyun.
Chennai's Hyun then overpowered Sindhu in the final game, winning 15-7 - but her team would end the night with zero points. Hyderabad swept the rest of the matches, including the two trump matches, one of which saw Hunters ace prevail in a titanic clash with India and Chennai star Parupalli Kashyap, ensuring the home crowd had a Merry Christmas.
Day 2 at Hyderabad's Gachibowli Indoor Stadium saw another one-sided scoreline, Ahmedabad Smash Masters beating Delhi Dashers 4-1.
That came despite Delhi winning the high-profile clash of the day, Tommy Sugiarto beating Viktor Axelsen 15-12, 10-15, 15-8. The damage had been done earlier, with the Smash Masters’ all-star Indian duo of Satwiksai Rankireddy and Sikki Reddy winning the mixed doubles match, and then Daren Liew getting a hard-fought win over Dashers star HS Prannoy in the first trump match of the day.
When Kirsty Gilmour beat Evgeniya Kosetskaya in the second Trump match, the tie was over.
Delhi won the mens’ doubles match, but all that achieved was ensuring that they didn't end the day on zero points.
Rituparna Das was the star of Day 3. One of the rising stars of Indian badminton, the 22-year-old continued to fill in for injured North Eastern Warriors captain Saina Nehwal. This time, she was entrusted with a trump match, and the young shuttler didn't disappoint, beating Mumbai Rockets' Shreyanshi Pardeshi in a thriller.
In a match between two of India's young aces, Das, just edged her rival, coming back from losing the first game to win 12-15, 15-10, 15-12.
That result sealed the win for the Warriors, after they'd won the first two matches of the tie as well. Mumbai won the last two matches, including Sameer Varma's dominant win over Tian Houwei, to come away with one point in the 4-1 loss.
The Day 4 double-header began with a bang, as Ahmedabad Smash Masters beat Bengaluru Raptors 4-3 in a pulsating encounter.
Ahmedabad's star mixed doubles duo of Rankireddy and Reddy got the ball rolling with a 2-1 trump match win over Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, and when Sourabh Verma beat BS Praneeth in the next match, the Smash Masters were firmly in the driving seat.
But the Raptors came roaring back, Srikanth Kidambi beating Daren Liew in the headline encounter of the tie, before all-Indonesian duo Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan coasted home in the men's doubles.
It all came down to Kirsty Gilmour's match against the Raptors’ Thi Trang Vu. Gilmour won the first game comfortably, 15-8, before a gripping second game saw the Scottish shuttler edge Vu 15-13 to hand Ahmedabad a 4-3 win.
It was always going to be tough to live up to that thriller, and the final tie of the Hyderabad leg ended in an anti-climax, Awadhe Warriors beating the home side 4-1.
The tie was made memorable for Hunters captain Sindhu's emotionally charged tie against Beiwen Zhang. Sindhu had already lost twice to the Chinese shuttler in 2018, and in the middle of a third defeat, the Indian star could no longer hide her frustration, smashing her racquet during a 15-13, 15-8 loss.
It was an eye-popping end to an action-packed Hyderabad leg.