Shocks Zhou Mi in first singles; India whitewash Lanka in Thomas Cup
Nakornratchasima (Thailand), Feb 22: Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal overcame her jinx against former world no.1 Zhou Mi to lead India to an impressive win over Hong Kong in their Uber Cup (Asia Zone) opener here on Monday.
World number seven Saina bounced back from a game down to edge past Zhou 14-21 21-10 23-21 in a 50-minute clash to give India a flying start in the prestigious team event.
Hong Kong pulled one back in the second singles when Yip Pui Yin beat Sayali Gokhale 21-13 21-11. National champion Trupti Murgunde, however, put India ahead once again as she saw off Chan Tsz Ka 21-18 21-16 in just 27 minutes.
India’s doubles strength asserted itself as Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa sealed the tie for India beating Zhou Mi and Tse Ying Suet 21-13 21-16 in a 21-minute match.
In the inconsequential fifth match, Aparna Balan and Shruti Kurian went down to Chau Hoi Wah and Chan Tsz Ka 9-21, 13-21.
Moments after the match, Saina said it was an unexpected win as Hong Kong were very strong. “It was an unexpected win but I am very happy we pulled it off. Everyone raised their game and contributed and it was a very important win overall,” Saina said.
India will take on Japan on Tuesday and Saina said it would be another tough one for the team. “Tomorrow’s match is going to be tough and we will have to put up another good performance. The doubles and singles would be equally tough,” she added.
Asked about her win over Zhou Mi, whom she considers as one of her main rivals, the 20-year-old Saina said she just tried to pick on her rival’s weakness.
“She is a very experienced player, strong at the back and has good parallel shots but she was weak in the net. In the second and third game I made her run a lot and she became exhausted and started attacking. My defense was strong which frustrated her and she started hitting outside,” the Hyderabadi said.
In the Thomas Cup, Chetan Anand spearheaded the men’s challenge edging past Niluka Karunaratne 21-18 19-21 21-17 in 38 minutes to set the ball rolling. Parupalli Kashyap then thrashed Niluka’s brother Dinuka Karunaratne 21-11 21-10 in 19 minutes in the second singles to help India go 2-0 up and with RMV Gurusaidutt beat Rajitha Dahanayake 21-13, 21-9 to seal the tie.
In the doubles matches, Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar outlasted the Niluka and Diluka Karunaratne 21-14, 18-21, 21-12, while V Diju and Dewalkar Akshay beat Chanaka Hasitha and Dahanayake Rajitha 21-11, 21-8. PTI