• Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Anmol Kharb seals historic gold for Indian badminton team

Indian players celebrate with the trophy after winning against Thailand in Selangor, Malaysia, last Sunday (18)

By: Eastern Eye

ANMOL KHARB yet again performed when it mattered, winning the decisive fifth rubber to lead Indian women to a historic Badminton Asia Team Championships title with a tight 3-2 victory over a depleted Thailand in Malaysia on Sunday (18).

The young sprightly group of Indian women’s team, led by seasoned PV Sindhu, defied all expectations to come up trumps against two-time bronze medallists Thailand.

It is first-ever major title for Indian women in Team championships and provides a big boost to the team ahead of the Uber Cup, which is set to be held in Chengdu, China from April 28 to May 5.

India had won two medals in the past with the men’s team claimng bronze medals in the 2016 and 2020 editions. “It is a great moment for Indian badminton. I give a lot of credit to these youngsters. They displayed great spirit, they were supporting each other and the atmosphere was just like it was when India won the Thomas Cup. So this is a special moment for India,” former India coach Vimal Kumar told PTI.

Though like most of the teams in the competition, Thailand were not at full strength, but they still had higher-ranked players in their side.

Thailand were without their top two singles players – world No. 13 Ratchanok Intanon and Pornpawee Chochuwong, who is ranked 16th in the world.

Two-time Olympic medallist Sindhu, who is returning to action after a four-month injury-forced break, provided India a confident start.

The former world champion was back to her aggressive best as she rode on her power and placement to outclass world No. 17 Supanida Katethong 21-12 21-12 in the first singles and hand India a 1-0 lead.

World No. 23 Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand continued their splendid run, dishing out another gritty performance to shock world No. 10 pair of Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Pra Jongjai 21-16 18-21 21-16 to put India in the driver’s seat.

Playing the second singles against world ranked 18 Busanan Ongbamrungphan, expectations were high from Ashmita Chaliha after her stunning win against former world champion Nozomi Okuhara on Saturday (17).

The Indian, who had defeated Busanan during the Singapore Open in 2022, stayed in the match till 14-14 in the second game but a string of unforced errors thereafter cost Ashmita dearly as she went down 11-21 14-21 against her experienced rival.

It was going to be a tall task for young Shruti Mishra and Priya Konjengbam, the senior national champions, to tame world No. 13 combination of Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard and the world No. 107 Indian duo expectedly lost 11-21 9-21 in just 29 minutes.

The tie evenly poised at 2-2, Anmol again shouldered the responsibility of taking India through and she did that with a dominating 21-14 21-9 victory over world No. 45 Pornpicha Choeikeewong in the deciding third singles.

 

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