India women clinch Badminton Asia Team Championships title

Indian women created history by clinching their first ever Badminton Asia Team Championships crown with a 3-2 victory over Thailand in Shah Alam, Malaysia, on Sunday.

India, who began their campaign with an upset win over China, accounted for top seeds Japan in the semi-final and showed they were the superior outfit in the final with convincing wins by former world champion PV Sindhu, a hard fought triumph by All England semi-finalists Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand before national champion Anmol Kharab clinched the deciding rubber in style to take the team home.

Congratulating the team on the triumph, Badminton Association of India (BAI) secretary Sanjay Mishra said, “It is a proud moment for all of us. It also underlined the depth of badminton talent in India and we are confident that this bunch of players will win many more titles in the coming years.”

It was vintage Sindhu against Supanida Katethong in the opening singles. She adopted an aggressive approach against a player who has troubled her in the past and the game plan paid dividends.

She rarely looked under any pressure throughout the 39-minute encounter, winning 21-12, 21-12 to give India the lead.

The combination of Treesa and Gayatri then doubled the lead, winning a nerve-wracking doubles match against the world No.10 pairing of Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai 21-16, 18-21, 21-16.

The Indians began with a clear game plan of pinning their opponents to the back court and attacking at every opportunity to clinch the opening game. But the superior defence of the Thai pairing helped them claw their way back into the match and it led to the Indians making some uncharacteristic errors.

To their credit, Gayatri and Treesa hung in when things weren’t really going their way and managed to turn around a 6-10 deficit in the decider to draw level at 14-14. They won five straight points from 15-15 to earn five match points. They converted the second to finish with an all-win record in the competition.

Ashmita Chaliha then could not find the same rhythm that saw her defeat former world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan on Saturday as she went down 11-21, 14-21 and the women’s doubles national champions Priya Konjengbam and Shruti Mishra lost to the Aimsaard sisters, Benyapa and Nuntakarn, to take the final into the deciding rubber.

It again came down to Anmol to win the deciding point for the team and the 17-year-old once again delivered in style. She took time to get used to Pornpicha Choeikeewong’s power and trailed 4-6 in the opening game but once she started controlling the rallies there was no stopping her.

She ultimately wrapped up the match 21-14, 21-9 to send the entire team into a frenzied celebration.