Badminton Life

Saina & Co to play for third place

India's women's badminton team will attempt to emulate the men in finishing third in the Asian qualifiers of the Uber Cup and get a clean entry into the finals in May, shorn of the dependence on Holland's ranking in Europe and myriad calculations.

And Saina Nehwal will be expected to lead by example when they take on Japan in the third-place face-off on Sunday. Going down 3-0 to Indonesia - which included a 21-16 21-15 loss for Nehwal to Adrianti Firdasari - in the semi-finals, the Indians would like to leave nothing to math when they run into Japan, who had beaten them 4-1 in the group stage.

World No 7 Nehwal will be expected to get the better of Ai Goto or Eriko Hirose, Japan's highest ranked shuttler at Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, since a confident win first-up in the opening singles has often set the tone for India's above-par performance throughout the last week. The Indians will also be looking for the other singles shuttlers - Sayali Gokhale and Trupti Murgunde - to punch above their weight, and hope that the dependable Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponappa and luckless Shruti Kurien-Aparna Balan come good.

"We're looking to win two singles and get that one doubles win at least, though Japan are obviously tough," said Gokhale, India's hero against Taipei. "The confidence is high, and we are prepared to fight," she added.

Men's team beat Japan 3-2

Inspiration isn't far off, since the men's team asserted their growing stature by beating Japan 3-2 to finish third. Leaving his off-colour days behind, Chetan Anand came back after having sharpened his net-play in the last two days when he was rested to beat Sho Sasaki 21-16 23-21. India went 2-0 up with Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar fighting to a 19-21 21-18 15-21 win against Hashimoto Hirokatsu and Hirata Noriyasu, but Aravind Bhat was unlucky to twist an ankle and go down 21-15 14-21 21-7 to Yamada Kazushi from a seemingly comfortable position.

Akshay Dewalkar and V Diju were good but not good enough against Kazuno Kenta and Hayakawa Kenichi - a top-20 unit - going down 17-21 21-16 21-19. It was left to Anup Sridhar, who played a cliffhanger that saw him prevail 7-21 21-19 22-24 against Shoji Sato. "It was especially comforting since we'd lost to Japan 5-0 two years ago. It shows how far we've come," Sridhar said.

Source from Indian

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