Thomas/Uber Cup: India men beat Thailand, women down Canada - Hindustan Times
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Thomas/Uber Cup: India men beat Thailand, women down Canada

Apr 27, 2024 11:06 PM IST

The reigning Thomas Cup champions were far from their best in winning their opening tie 4-1 in Chengdu, China

Holders India got off to a winning start in Chengdu on Saturday, beating Thailand 4-1 but not before the southeast Asian nation showed that rankings count for little in Thomas Cup.

India's Lakshya Sen in action(AP)
India's Lakshya Sen in action(AP)

Unlike what the eventual scoreline shows, India struggled on the opening day of badminton’s world men’s team championships before they face tougher challenges ahead in Group C, touted as the Group of Death. Indonesia and England are the other teams.

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In the first rubber, Paris Olympics bound HS Prannoy, who has struggled to match last year’s brilliant run of form in 2024, finally looked like he would get the better of Kunlavut Vitidsarn when he had three game points in the first game.

But the reigning world champion showed his mettle as he fought back to not just save the game points but win the 41-minute contest 22-20, 21-14, taking to 3-0 his head-to-head record over the highest ranked Indian (world No.9) in men’s singles.

World No.3 pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were the overwhelming favourites against Peeratchai Sukphun and Pakkapon Teeraratsakul next. But the Hangzhou Asian Games gold medallists also struggled, against the world No.52 pair.

After scraping throught to win the first game, the Indian duo made uncharacteristic errors to lose the second against the unfancied pair before restoring order in the decider to win 21-19, 19-21, 21-12 in 65 minutes at the Hi Tech Zone Sports Centre.

With the tie levelled at 1-1, Lakshya Sen gave India the lead by beating Panitchaphon Teeraratsakul, but not before the world No.105 took a game off the 2022 Commonwealth Gameschampion, who qualified for the Paris Olympics recently. Sen won 21-12, 19-21, 21-16 in 63 minutes after struggling against a player who has never even entered the top 100 in the world.

India’s second doubles pair MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila then defeated Tanadon Punpanich and Wachirawit Sothon 21-19, 21-15 in 47 minutes in what was the first meeting between the pairs. But here too, the world No.96 combine were ahead 19-18 in the first game before the No.41 ranked Indians seized the initiative.

In the fifth and final rubber, former world No.1 Kidambi Srikanth had it easy against Saran Jamsri, beating the world No.160 21-9, 21-5 in 28 minutes.

India next face a tricky England on Monday.

India women beat Canada

In the Uber Cup, a second-string Indian team was good enough to defeat a full-strength Canada 4-1 in a Group A clash with the highlight being Ashmita Chaliha’s convincing victory against a far more experienced Michelle Li. The former top 10 player and 2014 Commonwealth Games champion was outsmarted by India’s world No.53, who won a 42-minute thriller 26-24, 24-22 in what was the first meeting between them.

Reigning national champions Priya Konjengbam and Shruti Mishra then beat scratch pairing of Catherine Choi and Jeslyn Chow 21-12, 21-10 to hand India a 2-0 lead before Isharani Baruah beat Wen Yu Zhang 21-13, 21-12.

Jackie Dent and Crystal Lai earned the only win for Canada when they beat Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker 21-19, 21-15. But Anmol Kharb, who emerged the hero in India’s Badminton Asia Team Championships title win, helped wrap up the tie 4-1 when she beat Eliana Zhang 21-15, 21-11.

India next play Singapore on Sunday.

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