India’s much-anticipated entry into the Uber Cup quarterfinals and the exit from Thomas Cup was as expected as the mighty China reaching the knockout stage in both sections on the second day of the premier team championship.
Playing before the empty stands of Siri Fort Indoor Complex on Monday, Indian women raced away to a winning 3-0 lead against Hong Kong and eventually won 4-1 to book a place in the last-eight stage.
India will play Thailand to decide the group topper. A victory will help India avoid some of the heavyweight aspirants in the quarterfinals.
Saina Nehwal needed 35 minutes to dump World No. 21 Yip Pui Yin for the sixth time in seven meetings. G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa “played intelligently” after trailing for the better part of the opening game against Hoi Wah Chau and Lok Yan Poon, ranked 85th. After reeling off the final eight points of the first game, the Indian pair broke away from 7-all and never looked threatened.
“Ashwini broke the strings of her racquet a few times, so I got a bit worried,” said Jwala and pointed to the faster speed of the shuttles on this day. Ashwini was pleased the way the match went. “I think we played well. Jwala played from the backcourt and allowed me to play my strokes from the forecourt. The ploy worked fine.”
Thereafter Sindhu firmed up India’s place in the next stage with a clinical display, lasting just 26 minutes, against lowly-ranked Ying Mei Cheung.Opening blow
Earlier, the opening blow from 2012 runner-up Korea was enough to dash India’s hopes of punching above its weight in Thomas Cup. Virtually sure of winning both doubles, Korea needed to win at least one of the three singles to book its berth in the quarterfinals. The visiting team pulled off the opening singles when World No. 9 Son Wan-Ho tamed National champion K. Srikanth in 71 minutes.
Thereafter, the Koreans expectedly won the two doubles and India made the score-line look respectable by claiming the two singles. India’s 3-2 defeat has rendered meaningless its final league match against Germany.
Historically, India’s over-reliance on singles, in the absence of potency in its doubles combinations, has proved its undoing. Since the results in singles often push the non-performance of the doubles in open events into the background, the chinks in India’s armoury stands exposed in every team championship.
Before the victories of P. Kashyap and R.M.V. Gurusaidutt over lower-ranked rivals gave the handful of spectators something to cheer about, Srikanth ran Son Wan-Ho close but faltered on the second match-point in the decider.
The results: Thomas Cup: Group A: Indonesia bt Singapore 5-0; Thailand bt Nigeria 5-0.
Group: C: Korea bt India 3-2 (Son Wan-Ho bt K. Srikanth 17-21, 21-12, 21-18; Yoo Yeon-Seang & Lee Yong-Dae bt Sumeeth Reddy & Manu Attri 21-18, 21-17; Lee Dong-Keun lost to P. Kashyap 17-21, 14-21; Kim Sa-Rang & Kim Ki-Jung bt Akshay Dewalkar & Pranaav Chopra 21-16, 21-16; Hwang Joon Soo lost to R.M.V. Gurusaidutt 22-24, 13-21); Malaysia bt Germany 4-1.
Group D: China bt Russia 5-0.
Uber Cup: Group W: China bt England 5-0; Chinese Taipei bt Russia 4-1.
Group Y: India bt Hong Kong 4-1 (Saina Nehwal bt Pui Yin Yip 21-9, 21-10; G. Jwala & Ashwini Ponnappa bt Hoi Wah Chau & Lok Yan Poon 21-17, 21-13; P.V. Sindhu bt Ying Mei Cheung 21-8, 21-10; N. Sikki Reddy & Pradnya Gadre lost to Tsz Ka Chan & Ying Suet Tse 14-21, 11-21; P.C. Thulasi bt Hung Yung Chan 19-21, 21-16, 21-7); Thailand bt Canada 5-0.
Group Z: Japan bt Germany 5-0; Malaysia bt Denmark 3-2.