India men stun China, women blanked by Japan

Hyderabad: The Indian men today beat China for the first time in a team event before the women lost to Japan in the Badminton Asia Team Championship here today.

The Indian men defeated a depleted China 3-2 in the five-match tie comprising three singles and two doubles. The home team won all three singles but went down in doubles.

Both Indian men and women have already qualified to the quarterfinals.

In the first men's singles match, captain Kidambi Srikanth, currently the top ranked player for India at 9, gave a good start to his team with a superb 21-11, 21-17 win against China's Houwei Tian.

It was a keen contest between the two as Tian, ranked eighth, put up a competitive show. Srikanth, however, prevailed over his rival.

In the second singles between India's Ajay Jayaram and China's Zhengming Wang, the Indian came out on top winning 22-20, 15-21, 21-18.

Though Wang (world no.11) was well ahead of Jayaram in terms of ranking, the 25th-ranked Indian came up with a spirited performance to tame his rival.

It was an exciting contest between Jayaram and Wang with both of them leaving no stone unturned to gain advantage. With both winning one game each, the third and decisive game turned out to be a battle of wits.

"It's always a great feeling to beat a higher ranked Chinese player," Jayaram said after the win. India's HS Prannoy, ranked 27, too was not found lacking as he went on to win against his low-ranked rival Yuqi Shi in
the third singles 21-14, 21-10.

The two doubles matches of the tie were, however, a disappointment for India as the team lost both of them. Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy lost to China's Junhui Li-Zihan Qiu 20-22, 11-21.

In the second doubles, the pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra-Akshay Dewalkar was defeated by Yilv Wang-Wen Zhang 10-21, 18-21.

With India scoring the historic win, players, the other members of the Indian contingent and spectators burst into joy.

Expressing happiness on the first ever victory over China in a team event, chief coach Pullela Gopichand said: "I am very happy and thrilled to see our men team pull off a superb victory over team China. I am confident our team will maintain the same tempo and momentum and laurels for our country."

He, however, said some of the top players of China are not part of the team and that he does not want to go overboard.
It was, however, it was a wash out for India's women's team as they lost 0-5 to Japan in the evening session.

Notably, India's star shuttler Saina Nehwal is not part of the team owing to an injury. In the tie between PV Sindhu and Japan's Nozomi Okuhara, the Indian shuttler lost to her Japanese rival, who is ranked world number 8.

Sindhu, ranked number 12, began on a confindent note and won the first game 21-18, but lost the plot subsequently. The agile Okuhara came up with a delectable show and made matters difficult for Sindhu.

Okuhara went on to gain a firm grip as the match progressed and she eventually pulled off a 18-21, 21-12, 21-12 win.

India's PC Thulasi, who is currently ranked 111, lost to her competitive rival Sayaka Sato 22-24, 14-21. Ruthvika Shivani Gadde, the current national champion, went down fighting Japan's Yui Hashimoto, ranked 16, in the third singles. Hashimoto defeated Ruthvika 23-25, 21-14, 21-14.

In the first doubles, Japan's Misaki Matsumoto-Ayaka Takahashi trounced India's famed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponnappa 21-12, 21-18. In the second doubles, Japan's Shizuka Matsuo-Mami Naito defeated India's Sikki Reddy-PV Sindhu 18-21, 21-11 and 21-16.

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