Thomas Uber Cup: Indian women start campaign with dominant win over Canada

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Thomas Uber Cup: Indian women start campaign with dominant win over Canada

Chengdu (China):  A young women’s team illuminated the courts as Asian champions India kicked off their Uber Cup campaign with a resounding 4-1 victory over Canada in the opening Group A tie of the Thomas & Uber Cup badminton competitions here on Saturday.

In the absence of top singles and doubles players, India was led by the dynamic duo of Assam’s Ashmita Chaliha and Isharani Baruha, along with Manipur’s Priya Konjengbam. The Indian squad showcased its mettle despite the lack of international experience as the 17-year-old Anmol Kharb and Shruti Mishra (23) also showed their class on Saturday.

The young contingent led by Ashmita had the responsibility of giving India a winning start and the left-handed shuttler showed her mettle and they did just that. The world no 53 Ashmita upset Canada’s Michelle Li, ranked 28 places above her, 26-24, 24-22 in a 42-minute clash that saw the Indian save a total of six game points across the two games.

The 24-year-old Ashmita trailed 1-6, but the left-handed player soon closed the gap to 5-7, with a forehand winner and net kill. Ashmita soon ramped up the pace and claimed a 9-8 lead after playing a beautiful reverse slice drop and crosscourt smash.

Yet, Li managed to nose ahead 11-10 at the mid-game break. However, in a topsy-turvy battle, Ashmita fought back from a slow start to clinch a nail-biting victory 26-24, 24-22, displaying her prowess with every smash and drop shot.

The doubles combination of Priya Konjengbam and Shruti Mishra then doubled India’s lead with a 21-12, 21-10 win over Catherine Choi and Jeslyn Chow. With precision and finesse, they secured crucial points, beating Canadians with the score of 21-11, 21-10, propelling India to a 2-0 lead in the tie.

Priya and Shruti – India’s national champions – went up 11-3 in the opening game. Since Choi had to play the match without her regular doubles partner Josephine Wu, Priya and Shruti exploited the conditions. Priya-Shruti quickly broke away to a 19-7 lead.

The spotlight then shifted to 20-year-old Isharani Baruha, who made her mark on the big stage with a commanding performance in the second singles match. With confidence and determination, she outplayed her opponent, Wen Yu Zhang, sealing victory with a scoreline of 21-13, 21-12 in just 29 minutes to give India an unassailable lead.

Canada finally scored their first point when Jackie Dent and Crystal Lai defeated Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker 21-19, 21-15 in the second doubles rubber. India’s star in the successful Asian Team Championship campaign, Anmol Kharb then wrapped up the tie with a 21-15, 21-11 win over Eliana Zhang. The 17-year-old Anmol rose to the occasion, showcasing her talent with a dominant straight-game victory in the final rubber, securing India’s triumph with a 4-1 win.

The men’s team will kick off their Thomas Cup title defence against Thailand in Group C later in the day.


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