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Thomas & Uber Cup 2016: Men whitewashed by Indonesia, Women put valiant show against Japan

Sourabh Varma’s performance deserves appreciation from every corridor
Tanuj Kar
Modified 18 May 2016

Thomas Cup:

Indonesia’s singles stalwart Tommy Sugiarto took the day off which meant Ajay Jayaram got to face Christie Jonatan in what would be his last appearance at the 29th edition of Thomas Cup. Despite the opponents being seeded relatively close to each other, the match failed to deliver as per expectations with the Indonesian having his way via a seamless 21-14 21-12 victory.

The imposing pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan wasn’t brought on either, putting the new partnership of Manu Attri and Akshay Dewalkar in with a chance to salvage something from their knock. However, the second rubber turned out to be a disappointment as well as the Indian pair went down tamely in two straight games 21-18 21-17.

Unbeaten in his outings so far, B Sai Praneeth faced Anthony Ginting in the India’s third of the day and managed to seize the first game 21-18. In the ensuing games, the 23-year-old could not maintain the same composure and went down 21-11 21-15 to concede the third clash, thus confirming all three defeats at the tournament.

B Sumeeth Reddy and S Rankireddy’s draw versus Hendra Setiawan and his infrequent partner Markus Fernaldi was a lost cause right from the outset, and the Indonesian duo wrapped up the expected victory quite smoothly in 26 minutes.

Taking the court for India’s last match of the Thomas Cup, Sourabh Varma put up a valiant fight against Ihsan Maulana Mustofa before bowing out 21-10 20-22 21-13 four minutes into their second hour of play. Thus finished India’s 2016 campaign here at Kunshan with a disappointing 0-5 result against Indonesia in Group B.

Uber Cup:

Saina Nehwal.jpg
Saina Nehwal gave India an early advantage brushing aside Nozomi Okuhara

Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu established their supremacy over the badminton court once again today, when they decimated their high-performing Japanese rivals in straight game wins. For doubles, the Indian team fielded a couple of shuffled pairings which came tantalisingly close to proving the move as a masterpiece. However, eventually, both fell short as India emerged on the losing side at the end of an overall breathtaking contest.

Taking on World No. 5 Nozomi Okuhara, Saina had a tricky opener in which she trailed multiple times before recovering from a three-point gap at 15-18 to fetch six consecutive points to clinch it 21-18. In the following game, however, she ran riot over a hapless Okuhara who struggled to find an answer for her brutal smashes which brought the outcome to a humiliating 21-6.

Sindhu doubled the advantage with a 21-11 21-18 rout of Akane Yamaguchi, leaving the Indian team with one more match to win in order to seize the Japan tie.

Jwala Gutta – N Sikki Reddy lost the third match against a much superior opponent –  BWF doubles ranking toppers Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, 21-11 21-8.

It was a tremendously disproportionate ask for World No. 113 Ruthvika Shivani Gadde to try overpowering 12th placed Sayaka Sato in the fourth tie which, quite understandably, went the Japanese way.

Poised at 2-2, PV Sindhu and Ashwini Ponappa took on Shizuka Matsuo – Mami Naito to settle the high-voltage decider to close matters in Group D. Winning the first set 21-15 and tied 19-19 in the second, the Indian pair let their grip slip on the game as their rivals capitalized and ultimately seized the contest 15-21 21-19 21-16.

Published 18 May 2016, 15:54 IST
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