The young Indian brigade, led by 18-year-old Aditi Bhatt, impressed against a strong Thailand side even in a scoreline as onesided as 5-0 in the Uber Cup group stage match in Aarhus, Denmark on Wednesday.
It was the first defeat for Indian women after beating Spain (3-2) and Scotland (4-1). The women’s team were already assured of a spot in the quarterfinals and now finish second behind Thailand in Group B.
Malvika Bansod lost the opening women’s singles 15-21 11-21 to world No 10 Pornpawee Chochowong.
India needed to win the next doubles match to make a case for themselves but Ashwini Ponappa and Sikki N Reddy went down fighting 16-21 12-21 to top-10 pairing Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai.
For India to stay alive, it was imperative for Aditi Bhatt to win the next singles match. She fought her heart out but lost 16-21 21-18 15-21 to Tokyo Olympian Busanan Ongbamrungphan in a match that lasted 59 minutes. It was a battle that showed the talents of 18-year-old Bhatt looking to make a mark on the senior circuit and she has impressed so far in this tournament.
Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, a pair of 18-year-olds, then fought hard before losing 17-21 16-21 to world No 22 Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.
The precociously talented Tasnim Mir took the court with an aim to avoid a whitewash but lost 19-21 15-21 to Supaninda Katethong. Tasnim, 16, had a good chance to win the first game as she was leading 17-14 but lost points in a jiffy to let slip advantage.
In the quarterfinals, India will face a strong Japan side, who are the Uber Cup defending champions, on Thursday. The side led by former world No 1 Akane Yamaguchi has a perfect 15-0 record after three group matches.
Late on Tuesday night, the Indian men’s badminton team hammered Tahiti 5-0 to enter the quarterfinals of the Thomas Cup for the first time since 2010
The men’s team, on Tuesday, recorded its second straight 5-0 win, having beaten the Netherlands with an identical margin on Sunday. The team is now in last-eight stage and the last time Indian men made the quarterfinals of the tournament, they had lost to Indonesia.
Tuesday’s win over Tahiti ensured that Indian men’s team will finish in top-two in the four-team Group C. India will take on traditional powerhouse China in the final match on Thursday.
B Sai Praneeth began the proceedings with a 21-5 21-6 win over Louis Beaubois in just 23 minutes in the opening singles.
Sameer Verma made it 2-0 with an easy 21-12 21-12 victory over Remi Rossi in 41 minutes.
Kiran George sealed the tie for India with a 21-4 21-2 thrashing of Elias Maublanc in the third men’s singles that got over in only 15 minutes.
In the inconsequential doubles matches, the pair of Krishna Prasad and Vishnu Vardhan achieved a 21-8 21-7 win in 21 minutes before Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty beat Maublanc and Heiva Yvonet 21-5 21-3.
Here’s the lineup for when Indian men will face defending champions China in the final group stage match.
(With PTI inputs)