Sunday, May 15, 2016
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Thailand enjoyed a solid start to their campaigns in the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2016, with the men beating India and the women Hong Kong.
The opening session of the 29th Thomas Cup and the 26th Uber Cup competition this morning in Kunshan, China, also saw Korea outgun Germany 5-0 in Group C of the Thomas Cup and Indonesia blank Bulgaria 5-0 in Group C of the Uber Cup.
Thailand’s 3-2 victory over a second-string India in Thomas Cup Group B wasn’t as close as the score suggested. India were without their two best Men’s Singles players (Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy) and doubles mainstay Pranaav Chopra; Thailand went in without Boonsak Ponsana.
Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk led the Thai challenge against Ajay Jayaram in the opening match and, despite losing the second game, wrapped it comfortably, 21-16 12-21 21-14.
With Bodin Issara/Nipitphon Puangpuapech (featured image) shutting out Sumeeth Reddy/Manu Attri 21-17 21-6 in the Men’s Doubles, India had their backs to the wall, but Sai Praneeth brought them back in contention beating Khosit Phetpradab 21-11 21-16.
Thailand’s Kedren Kittinupong/Puavaranukroh Dechapol were favourites to beat Akshay Dewalkar and new partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. The Indians showed pluck, though, with new recruit Rankireddy impressing with his play from the back. The Thais just about made it home in the end, 21-15 14-21 21-15, sealing the tie.
“Pranaav didn’t come because of an injury,” said Dewalkar. “Satwick has just come fresh into the team, but he played well. He lacks the experience at this level. We had our chances, though.”
India reduced the margin through Sourabh Verma, who edged past Adulrach Namkul 21-17 16-21 21-19 in the third Men’s Singles.
On an adjacent court, Thailand’s women proved too strong for Hong Kong in a 4-1 rout. World No.1 Ratchanok Intanon led the way (21-18 21-15 over Yip Pui Yin), followed by Puttita Supajirakul/Sapsiree Taerattanachai in doubles (21-16 21-18 over Tse Ying Suet/Sin Ying Yuen).
Cheung Ngan Yi pulled one back for Hong Kong, winning the second singles over Busanan Ongbumrungpan 21-14 21-13, but Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai clinched the tie in the second doubles, 21-7 21-17 over Ng Tsz Yau/Nga Ting Yeung. Nitchaon Jindapol made it 4-1 with a 21-11 21-14 result over Cheung Ying Mei.
Bulgaria couldn’t take a match from Indonesia in Uber Cup Group C, with Linda Zetchiri and Petya Nedelcheva falling in the singles to Maria Febe Kusumastuti and Fitriani Fitriani respectively.
World No.15 Women’s Doubles pair Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva were expected to take a point for Bulgaria against No.25 duo Anggia Shitta Awanda/Mahadewi Istirani Ni Ketut. The Bulgarians however fell in a close three-game match, and Indonesia faced no further trouble in closing out the tie 5-0.
Korea routed Germany 5-0 in the Thomas Cup Group C without the loss of a game. Son Wan Ho punctured German resistance at the outset, trouncing veteran Marc Zwiebler 21-13 21-9 in just 33 minutes. Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang (21-6 21-7 over Fabian Holzer/Johannes Pistorius) and Jeon Hyeok Jin (21-9 21-18 over Kai Schaefer) ensured the tie for Korea.
Results (Day 1 Session 1)
Thomas Cup: Group B: Thailand bt India 3-2; Group C: Korea bt Germany 5-0
Uber Cup: Group C: Indonesia bt Bulgaria 5-0; Group C: Thailand bt Hong Kong 4-1