The Indian badminton women’s team kicked off their Uber Cup campaign with a win after beating Spain 3-2 at Aarhus, Denmark, on Sunday.
The Indians were touted to make a blazing start with Saina Nehwal opening the proceedings. But the London Olympics bronze medalist had to concede the match to Clara Azurmendi after retiring due to a groin strain. Saina Nehwal lost the opening game 20-22.
However, Malvika Bansod and other youngsters rose to the occasion to help India post a win.
Speaking to journalists and the BWF after the match, Saina Nehwal said she was taken by surprise over her injury. She said:
"There was a sudden catch in my groin and I was surprised at how it happened. I was trying to get back into my rhythm, but, I couldn't get it and ultimately had to give it up as it was hurting."
Saina Nehwal said she would give it time before she decides on a future course of action.
"Let me see how it goes for the next three or four days. There are two more matches. I don't want to make any sudden decisions on it. The body feels good but the groin issue has to go."
Saina Nehwal lauded the courts and the conditions at the venue and said there was no drift at all, although it was a tad on the slower side.
Malvika takes pride in win after Saina Nehwal's false start
India's Malvika Basod, however, restored parity soon after Saina Nehwal's match, beating Beatriz Corrales 21-13, 21-15.
Malvika said she felt great to be playing in the Uber Cup for India and said she took a lot of pride in her win as it helped India come back on level terms. She said:
"It was a great feeling. This was the first point for India. We were down 0-1 and I made it 1-1. It was a moment of pride for me. I am playing at such a big level for the first time and it feels great to be able to score a point for India."
However, Indian doubles pair Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy lost to Clara Azurmendi and Beatriz Corrales 18-21, 21-14, 17-21.
The Indians forced the decider after losing the first game but lost momentum to end the day on a losing note. However, it didn't impact the overall tie as India had taken an unassailable 3-1 win by then.
Ashwini said they were done in by a plethora of unforced errors. She explained:
"There were too many unforced errors and at this level you can't afford to do that. They (Clara and Corrales) played well, they got a lot of shots and they were consistent."
Sikki Reddy said getting back to the drawing board and preparing for the upcoming tie is key to overcoming the loss. She said:
"Overall, we played to our plans. They were lucky. Everything went well for them. We have to focus, forget this and prepare well."