Despite suffering a loss by a narrow margin to Japan, Indian women team have qualified for the quarterfinals of the Uber Cup badminton tournament, virtue of the brilliant performances in their previous matches against Germany and Australia. Indian eves faced the runners-up of the previous Uber Cup, Japan in a battle to secure the top spot of the group D on Wednesday in Kunshan, but they lost by a margin of 2-3 and qualified for the knock-out phase as the second best team of the group.
However, the men’s team continued their dismal run and had disappointed the whole country as they have failed to register a single win in the Thomas Cup, the men’ nationwide badminton competition and get thrashed out of the tournament. The men’s team lost to Indonesia by 0-5 margin in their third and last match of Group B at the Kunshan Sports Center Stadium, after losing to Thailand and Hong Kong in their first two group league outings.
In Uber Cup, Indian women’s team started brilliantly against the mighty powerhouse Japan and took a lead of 2-0 ,thanks to Olympic Bronze medalist Saina Nehwal and current world number 10. P V Sindhu.
Saina, currently world’s 8th best lady shuttler, defeated World No. 5 Nozomi Okuhara 18-21 6-21 and avenged her loss against the Japanese at the Dubai World Superseries Finals last year, to hand India a lead of 1-0. The 26-year old Hyderabadi girl fought hard to win the first game from 15-18 position and then totally dominated the second game to zoom past Okuhara in just 38 minutes.
The two-time World Championship bronze medalist, P V Sindhu clinched a victory against World No. 11 Akane Yamaguchi in just 36-minutes and by the 21-11 21-18 score line in the second singles to give India a 2-0 lead.
In the first doubles match, Jwall Gutta paired up with N Sikki Reddy to take on the challenge of the formidable World No. 1 pair of Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo, but the duo failed to make an impact and surrendered themselves without a proper fight and lost the clash within half an hour with the score line of 11-21 8-21in favor of the Japanese.
In the third singles, Ruthvika Shivani Gadde faced off with the World No. 12 Sayaka Sato and it was a complete mismatch as the Indian shuttler went down in just 29 minutes with the 7-21 14-21 score line allowing Japan to draw parity in the tie.
For the last and deciding match, the doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa teamed up with PV Sindhu but despite their gallant fight, the Indian duo lost to Mami Naito and Shizuka Matsuo by the score line of 21-15 19-21 16-21 and eventually the Indian ladies lost the tie 2-3 in their group league top spot decider.
But as the top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage, India still got their ticket to the quarterfinal as the second best team of the Group D, behind Japan. To help you remember, Indian ladies got thumping victory in their first two matches of the Uber Cup 2016, against Australia and Germany, both in a grand manner of the 5-0 score line. The sheer brilliance of Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu made all the differences and now there will be another draw to know which country Indian Women’s badminton team will face in the quarter-final.