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India men blank Netherlands 5-0 in Thomas Cup as women beat Spain 3-2 in Uber Cup

By Pti
Kidambi Srikanth opened the mens match with a win

Aarhus (Denmark), October 11: The Indian men's badminton team blanked lower-ranked Netherlands 5-0 in the opening Group C tie to make a winning start at the Thomas Cup Final in Aarhus, Denmark on Sunday (October 10) night.

Kidambi Srikanth opened with a 21-12, 21-14 against Joran Kweekel in a men's singles clash before the doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty sailed past the Dutch pair of Ruben Jille and Ties van der Lecq 21-19, 21-12 to hand India a 2-0 advantage.

World championship bronze-medallist B Sai Praneeth then demolished Robin Mesman 21-4, 21-12 in just 27 minutes in the second singles match to give India an unassailable 3-0 lead.

MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila next defeated Andy Buijk and Brian Wassink 21-12, 21-13 in the second doubles tie before Sameer Verma made the clean sweep, beating Gijs Duijs 21-6, 21-11 in the third and final singles match.

Earlier on Sunday (October 11), ace shuttler Saina Nehwal was forced to retire midway through her opening match but India's young women's team produced a clinical display to notch up a fine 3-2 win over Spain in the Uber Cup Final.

Starting the proceedings for India, London Olympics bronze medallist Saina had to concede her match after losing the first game 20-22 against Spain's Clara Azurmendi as she developed discomfort in her groin area.

However, Malvika Bansod ensured that India quickly recovers from the opening game reversal as she dished out a dominating 21-13 21-15 win over former world No. 20 Beatriz Corrales to bring India at level par with the Spanish team.

Tanisha Crasto and Rutaparna Panda then produced an equally impressive display, completely outplaying Spain's Paula Lopez and Lorena Usle 21-10 21-8 as India grabbed a 2-1 lead in the five-match rubber.

In the third singles, Aditi Bhatt gave ample display of her talent during the 21-16 21-14 win over Spain's Ania Setien in the third singles as India sealed the contest 3-1.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallists N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa, however, could not get past world No. 122 pair of Azurmendi and Corrales, losing 18-21 21-14 17-21 in the second women's doubles match.

It was, however, a delightful sight to see the youngsters stepping up. First up was the left-handed Bansod, who produced a superb display, making Corrales run around the court with her angled returns to dominate the proceedings.

The Indian entered the break with an 11-8 lead before grabbing nine game points. She lost two chances before sealing the opening game with a precise net return.

Bansod, who has won Uganda and Lithuanian internationals this year, played some magnificent shots to erase a small deficit early on in the second game and held a 11-5 advantage at the interval.

Corrales tried to come back in the later stages but Bansod grabbed five match points before unleashing a brutal smash to seal the contest.

Tanisha and Rutaparna then showed great tactical acumen, leaving their opponents in awe with their smart badminton. The duo dominated the match with their power and precision as Paula and Lorena succumbed in a heap of errors.

Next, Aditi carried the momentum forward, dishing out a gritty performance as she kept her nose ahead after breaking off at 4-4, despite her opponent snapping at her heels. She was more at ease in the second game, moving in giant strides to eventually seal it comfortably.

India's men's team will next play another weak opponent in Tahiti in the Thomas Cup on Tuesday (October 12), while the country's women shuttlers will be up against Scotland in Group B.

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Story first published: Monday, October 11, 2021, 14:12 [IST]
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