India’s Thomas & Uber Cup campaign continues to be a bittersweet affair as the men’s team were handed a second consecutive victory while our women pulled off another clean sweep at the Kunshan Sports Centre Stadium today.
In the Thomas Cup, following their opening day loss to Thailand, India would’ve wished to bounce back with a victory against the Hong Kong team today which couldn’t however, be actualized. Having conceded the first two matches, the Indians were required to win all the remaining three which was not meant to happen, and at the end of today’s five, the Hong Kongers had seized it 3-2.
Ajay Jayaram faced Ng Ka Long in his second singles outing here, which finished in favour of the imposing World No. 11 Long 21-13,21-12.
The next match turned out to be an upset for the 20th placed doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy who, after a closely fought 1st game, slipped beyond recovery in the 2nd and saw themselves vanquished by the 48th ranked Or Chin Chung – Tang Chun Man partnership, 21-19 21-12.
B Sai Praneeth then put up an excellent display of maturity and resilience when he took on Hu Yun ranked 20 places above him by the BWF in a must-win encounter. Both games went into a tie-break which saw the Indian emerge victorious with 23-21 scores in each.
Praneeth’s heroics were, however, rendered futile soon after when the teenage duo of S Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty was easily overpowered by Chan Tsz Kit – Law Cheuk Him 21-10 21-11 in a 24-minute contest. Lastly, Sourabh Varma accomplished the biggest upset of the day as he came from behind to take the 5th match 17-21 21-19 21-9 against Wei Nan. Incidentally, Wei is ranked 17 in singles by the BWF whereas Sourabh’s name comes at 180.
After the Australian rout on Monday, Germany, seeded 9th in the tournament could possibly have been a trickier opponent but India’s women ensured there never crept in any doubt about today’s outcome either, thus sealing their second successive 5-0 victory here at Kunshan.
Saina Nehwal ran away with the opener against Fabienne Deprez 21-15 21-10 and her compatriot PV Sindhu didn’t do any less in the following match in which she thrashed Luis Heim 21-7 21-12 thereby wrapping each of the two clashes in less than half an hour.
Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponappa ran into some trouble in the third fixture as they lost the first game 21-14 to the German duo of Linda Effler and Lara Kaepplein. In the ensuing minutes, the seasoned campers effectively tightened the screws which meant no room being left for an upset as they settled the decider of the day with successive favourable sets at 21-9 and 21-8.
Youngest member of the women’s contingent, 19-year-old Ruthvika Shivani Gadde then went on to record her second win of the tourney with a commanding 21-5 21-15 over Yvonne Li to make it 4-0.
In the longest clash of the day that lasted 56 minutes, N Sikki Reddy and PV Sindhu squandered multiple advantages to Isabel Herttrich-Franziska Volkmann throughout the tie but eventually managed to hold their nerves in the dying minutes to close it 21-18 19-21 22-20.
It has been a thoroughly encouraging display by the Indian women so far at the Uber Cup 2016, which will provide them with some much needed momentum going into the demanding fixture against the mighty Japanese squad tomorrow, here at the Kunshan Sports Centre Stadium in Jiangsu.