A young Indian women’s team found the going tough against the defending champions Japan led by world no 5 Akane Yamaguchi as they bowed out of Uber Cup after a 3-0 defeat in Aarhus, Denmark on Thursday.
Earlier, already through to the quarterfinals, the Indian men’s badminton team suffered a defeat at the hands of formidable China in its last group match of the Thomas Cup. They finished their group engagements at second place behind China, setting them up against Denmark in the last-eight stage on Friday.
In the women’s quarterfinals, the task facing a Saina Nehwal-less Indian lineup was always going to be arduous even if the defending champions were without Nozomi Okuhara. Former world No 1 Yamaguchi started the tie off with a win against a battling Malvika Bansod. But the remaining two matches were relatively straightforward affairs for Japan.
Only the doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty could manage a win in the tie against China as they beat He Ji Ting and Zhou Hao Dong 21-14 21-14 in a 41-minute contest. It was a dominant display by the Indian pairing against a scratch pair from China, even though they had individually been in the world top 10 with other partners before.
The win by Rankireddy and Shetty duo boosted the confidence of the Indian team after a struggling Kidambi Srikanth began the day for India with a 12-21 16-21 loss to Shi Yu Qi in 36 minutes.
Sameer Verma gave a tough fight to Lu Guang Ju but eventually lost his singles match 21-14 9-21 22-24 after one hour and 23 minutes as India trailed 1-2.
The other doubles pair of M R Arjun and Dhruv Kapila went down fighting 24-26 19-21 to Liu Cheng and Wang Yi Lyu in 52 minutes before Kiran George lost to Li Shi Feng 15-21 17-21 in the 43-minute singles match.
The defeat against China was the first for the men’s team in the tournament. They had beaten the Netherlands 5-0 on Sunday before notching up a victory against Tahiti by an identical margin on Tuesday to qualify for Thomas Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.
With PTI inputs