Indian women brace up for stiffer tests

Indian women brace up for stiffer tests

Win over Thailand has given them the confidence to go for more

Indian women brace up for stiffer tests

 The women’s badminton in India is, perhaps, witnessing its best phase. The rise of singles players Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu on the international circuit has lit up the possibility of new milestones for the country in the Uber Cup.  

The women shuttlers, who in the past had limited moments of joy in Uber Cup, have overshadowed their male counterparts this time by making it to the last eight stage. Its true the women drew lower-ranked teams in Group Y but they also faced a formidable opponent in Thailand, which was headed by World Champion and World No 4 Ratchanok Intanon. 

The victory over Thailand not only pushed India to the top of the group but their unbeaten run has also given them conviction to take on the bigger sides. India’s quarterfinal rival are likely to be among Indonesia, Thailand, Denmark or England.“The quarters was the first step, semis is the second. Realistically if you look at it in a team championship anything is possible, we had three good games. I don’t know where we will end but we are hopeful,” said chief India coach Pullela Gopichand on Wednesday.

Victory against Thailand also saw Saina putting up a gritty display against Intanon. Gopichand said Saina should be ready to face tougher competition. “I wouldn’t say she played at her best but she was there and if she continues the same way, we can get better results. Questions about her form are immaterial. She has a lot of fire and she will continue to be a world class player.”

There is also a possibility that India might field Saina and Sindhu as second doubles pair again. The two featured together for the first time against Thailand although in a losing cause.

“The way it turned out we had our best three (two singles and one doubles pair) upfront and we could wrap up the game. I thought if it was 2-all, the pressure will play a major role. Saina said she would take the responsibility. If need be we will play them together again. The way they played was really good except for a few minor things,” Gopi said.

Meanwhile, Indian men ended their campaign with a hard fought 3-2 victory over Germany. At 2-2, RMV Gurusaidutt, playing the third singles, kept up his winning run to seal a tensed encounter. 

He rallied to beat Lukas Schmidt of Germany 14-21, 19-21-19, 21-19 after the second doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar ensured the tie is pushed to the fifth rubber with a 21-9, 17-21, 21-19 victory over Peter Kaesbauer and Josche Zurwonne.

Earlier, the opening match, K Srikanth beat Marc Zwiebler 21-18, 18-21, 21-18 before Michel Fuchs and Johannes Schoettler defeated Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy 21-15, 21-6 to level the scores. Germany then went ahead with Dieter Domke stunning P Kashyap 23-21, 14-21, 21-14. 

India were left to rue their defeat to  Korea that proved decisive. Lack of good doubles combinations also hurt India. “I thought against Korea (in the Thomas Cup) we could have pulled it off. That was a bit disappointing. We could have pulled it through,” said former national coach U Vimal Kumar.

In other matches on the day, Korean and Japanese women topped their respective groups with an all-win record. Korea defeated Indonesia 4-1 in Group X while Japan beat Denmark 4-1 in what turned out to be a more or less an one-sided affair.

In Thomas Cup, top seeds Indonesia hammered Thailand 4-1 to top Group A, while Malaysia downed Korea 3-2.