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Badminton Asia Team Championships: Indian women assured of historic medal, men go down to Japan

Indian women shuttlers assured themselves of a maiden Badminton Asia Team Championships medal by cruising to a 3-0 win over Hong Kong in the quarterfinals on Friday.

After stunning top seeds China to top the group stage, India blanked Hong Kong riding on wins from double Olympic-medallist PV Sindhu, Ashmita Chaliha, and the doubles pair of Ashwini Ponappa and Tanisha Crasto.

India will now face the winner of the other quarterfinal between top seed Japan and China.

Returning from a long injury layoff, Sindhu registered a hard-fought 21-7, 16-21, 21-12 win against a lower-ranked Lo Sin Yan Happy.

The women’s doubles combination of Tanisha and Ponnappa then doubled the lead by getting the better of world no. 18 combination of Yeung Nga Ting and Yeung Pui Lam 21-10, 21-14 in 35 minutes.

Ashmita then wrapped up the tie with a comfortable 21-12, 21-13 triumph over Yeung Sum Yee, assuring the team of at least a bronze.

“It is a comfortable result for the women’s team. I am very happy with their performance,” former national coach Vimal Kumar, who is with the team, told PTI from Shah Alam.

“There was a little drift, so it was initially difficult to control the shuttle as it was going out. Sindhu was stretched a bit as it was tough from one end due to the drift but it is a good result, we are in the semifinals.” Up against world no. 77 Lo, Sindhu zoomed to 11-1 in the opening game after her rival found the going tough. The Indian conceded six points after resumption before wrapping up the game.

It turned out to be a tight battle after the change of sides as Sindhu and Lo moved neck and neck till 10-10 before the Hong Kong player went into the break with a one-point lead with the help of a cross drop.

Lo jumped to a 15-10 lead thereafter with Sindhu struggling to control the shuttle, hitting at the net and long. Lo too produced some good shots, including a body smash and Sindhu made few judgement errors at the backline.

Lo eventually took the match to the decider when Sindhu went to the net again.

In the decider, Sindhu was back in her element as she rushed to a 5-1 lead. Lo did engage the Indian in some exciting rallies but she lacked precision. The result was that Sindhu took a 11-7 cushing at the break after Lo served into the net.

After resumption, Sindhu used her variety of strokes to accumulate points quickly, moving to 17-8. She grabbed nine match points when Lo sprayed into net and converted it in the second chance, with Lo again going wide.

India men fall short of semifinal spot

However, it was a heartbreak for the men as they came within striking distance of a semifinal spot, but two-time former world champion Kento Momota found a way to take his team through, beating Kidambi Srikanth in the third singles.

With the team locked at 2-2, all eyes were on the third and final singles between two former world no. 1s, Kidambi Srikanth and Kento Momota. Srikanth drew first blood by claiming the opening game before the Japanese fought back to force a decider.

It seemed India would make the semifinal when Srikanth opened up a 19-12 lead, but Momota forced his way back by winning eight straight points. The Indian managed to save one match point but could not stop the Japanese from taking the match in an hour and 17 minutes.

Results (quarterfinals):

Women: India bt Hong Kong 3-0 (PV Sindhu bt Lo Sin Yan Happy 21-7, 16-21, 21-12; Tanisha Crasto/Ashwini Ponnappa bt Yeung Nga Ting/Yeung Pui Lam 21-10, 21-14; Ashmita Chaliha bt Yeung Sum Yee 21-12, 21-13)

Men: India lost to Japan 2-3 (HS Prannoy lost to Kenta Nishimoto 16-21, 24-26; Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty bt Kenya Mitsuhashi/Hiroki Okamura 21-15, 21-17; Lakshya Sen bt Koki Watanabe 21-19, 22-20; MR Arjun/Dhruv Kapila lost to Akira Koga/Kazuki Shibata 17-21, 15-21; Kidambi Srikanth lost to Kento Momota 21-17, 9-21, 20-22)

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