India march into Asia Badminton men’s semis
India men’s impressive run in the Badminton Asia Team Championships continued as the hosts booked a semifinal berth with a hard fought 3-2 win over former champions Malaysia, but women’s team bowed out after a 0-3 loss to Korea here today.
With this victory, the Indian men’s team has qualified for the Thomas Cup, to be played in May this year. The Badminton Asia Team Championships also serve as a qualifier for Thomas and Uber Cup.
India will now take on Indonesia in the semifinals tomorrow.
H S Prannoy won the deciding singles after India and Malaysia were locked 2-2 in the five-match quarterfinals tie at the Gachibowli indoor stadium here.
Prannoy beat Teck Zhi Soo 21-12 22-20 in a tense match to put India in the semifinals which will be played tomorrow.
Prannoy, currently ranked 27, won the first game easily but his lower-ranked Malaysian rival came back strongly in the second game which turned out to be a battle of wits. He, however, had the last laugh, narrowly winning the second game 22-20 that set off celebrations in the Indian camp.
Earlier, India’s captain Kidambi Srikanth, who remained unbeaten in the group matches, was in his elements once again in the first singles match as he hardly broke a sweat in his 21-14 21-15 win against Malaysia’s Zulfadli Zulkiffli, who is ranked 38.
India’s pair of Manu Attri and Sumeet Reddy beat Juan Shen Low-Kiang Meng Tan 10-21 22-20 21-16 in the first doubles match of the tie.
India, however, had a big disappointment with Ajay Jayaram (ranked 25) losing to Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, who is ranked 39.
Jayaram made several unforced errors and he eventually lost 21-17 12-21 16-21.
In the second doubles, Indian combine of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar went down fighting to Malaysia’s duo of Yew Sin Ong and Ee Yi Tieo 14-21 21-14 12-21.
The five-match tie comprised three singles and two doubles matches.
Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand hoped that the team would continue the momentum in the semifinal tomorrow.
“I am very happy to see our men’s team pull off a superb victory over Malaysia. I am confident our team will maintain the same tempo and momentum when it takes on Indonesia tomorrow in the semis,” he said.
However, it was a heartbreak for the Indian women, who came a cropper in the absence of star player Saina Nehwal.
India’s rising shuttler PV Sindhu, ranked world number 12, fought a bitter battle before losing her singles match 21-13 21-14 to Korea’s Ji Hyun Sung (ranked world number 6).
India’s star doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa fought hard in the first doubles but went down 21-15 20-22 21-13 to Kyung Eun Jung-Seung Chan Shin of Korea.
In the second singles, Korea’s Yeon Ju Bae, ranked 14, trounced India’s PC Thulasi, ranked 11-21 21-14 21-15.
In other matches of the day in men’s category, Indonesia trounced Hong Kong China 3-0, Korea humbled China 3-0 and Japan beat Chinese Taipei 3-0.
In the women’s category, China beat Indonesia 3-0, Thailand prevailed over Malaysia 3-0 and Japan defeated 3-1.