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India women upset China 3-2 to enter Badminton Asia Team Championships quarterfinals

Shah Alam, Feb 14 2024-

Indian women’s badminton team upset the mighty Chinese while the men got the better of Hong Kong to march into the quarterfinals of the Badminton Asia Team Championships here on Wednesday.

The women, led by two-time Olympic medallists PV Sindhu, defeated China for the first time in a team event with teenage debutante Anmol Kharab coming up with an inspired performance to ensure a 3-2 score line in the Indian’s favour in the Group W clash.

Later, the men’s team defeated Hong Kong 4-1 to assure themselves of a top-two finish from Group A.

The BATC 2024 saw Sindhu making comeback to competitive badminton for the first time since the French Open last October long injury lay-off.

Sindhu showed that she was not just regaining her form but also her confidence as she won the opening game against Han Yue comfortably and then turned around a 10-13 deficit by winning 11 of the next 13 points to give India the lead with 21-17, 21-15 win in the first rubber.

However, the Chinese team swiftly equalised the score to 1-1 as the doubles pair Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto lost in straight games with scores of 19-21, 16-21.

In the third rubber, Ashmita Chaliha suffered a straight games defeat to Zhi Yi Wang with scores of 13-21, 15-21. This put China in a favourable position to secure the win in the tie.

All England semifinalists Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand then fought back from a game down against world no. 22 combination Li Yi Jing and Luo Xu Min to win 10-21, 21-18, 21-17 in an hour and nine minutes to restore parity.

All eyes were then on national champion Anmol, who was playing in the competition for the first time. In a closely contested opening game, the teenager kept her nerves under pressure from Wu Luo Yu to convert her second game point and draw first blood.

It looked like the pressure was getting to Anmol as she lost the second game and trailed 1-5 at the start of the third. However, she stuck to her game plan of keeping the shuttle in play and wrapped up the match with three straight points, 22-20, 14-21, 21-18.

With just two teams in Group W, India will qualify for the quarterfinals as the top team.

Reacting to the team’s victory, Badminton Association of India General Secretary Sanjay Mishra said: “It is a special feeling to see the team beating China. More importantly, we showed faith in the youngsters while selecting the team and I am happy they delivered the goods.”

In the men’s team event, the Indian team put behind the reversal of HS Prannoy’s loss in the opening men’s singles match to beat Hong Kong quite easily. They will face China to decide the group winners on Thursday.

In the opening rubber, Prannoy faced an 18-21, 14-21 loss at the hands of NG Ka Long Angus.

Then, the world no. 1 men’s pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty started the turnaround with a 21-16, 21-11 win over Lui Chun Wai and Yeung Shing Choi before Lakshya Sen beat Chan Yin Chak 21-14, 21-9 and another men’s duo MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila beat Chow Hin Long and Hung Kuei Chun 21-12, 21-7 to seal the tie for India.

Kidambi Srikanth outplayed Jason Gunawan 21-14, 21-18 in the dead rubber to complete a 4-1 victory.

With the top two teams from each group making the quarters, the win guarantees the Indian men a place in the final eight as Hong Kong China have lost both their matches in the group stage. China beat them 5-0 on Tuesday.

The Indian men’s will face China for its final Group A fixture on Thursday.

The Badminton Asia Team Championships 2024 will offer valuable Race to Paris 2024 ranking points, which will be crucial for shuttlers looking to compete at the upcoming Olympic Games.

The 2024 edition of the biennial continental team championships will also serve as the Asian qualifiers for the 2024 Thomas and Uber Cup to be held in Chengdu, China in April-May. (Agency)

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