India lose Thomas and Uber Cup openers

Saina Nehwal loses to Michelle Li in the 2018 Uber Cup opener. (photo: AFP)
Saina Nehwal loses to Michelle Li in the 2018 Uber Cup opener. (photo: AFP)

Bangkok: India’s head-scratching decision to rest the world No. 9 HS Prannoy for the Thomas Cup opening tie against France prove fatal as they lost 1-4 to France on Sunday.

India surprisingly decided to rest Prannoy for what was essentially a must-win tie for them, considering they have nine-time champions China in the group as well. India now need to beat China and Australia to stand a chance to progress to the quarter-finals of the team championship. While India can be expected to beat Australia, getting past China will need a miracle.

World No 18 Sai Praneeth got India to a good start by outlasting France’s Brice Leverdez 21-7, 21-18 in just 30 minutes to give India 1-0 lead.

In the second match, World No. 38 men’s doubles pair Arjun MR/Ramchandran Shlok, who had recently reached the quarter-finals at Australian Open and Swiss Open, lost 13-21 16-21 to Bastian Kersaudy and Julien Maio, allowing France to level the score to 1-1.

Swiss Open champion and World No. 21 Sameer Verma put up a strong fight, but was surprisingly stunned by World No. 43 Lucas Corvee 18-21, 22-20, 18-21 as France grabbed a 2-1 lead.

World No. 70 men’s doubles pair Arun George/Sanyam Shukla was then defeated by World No. 103 Thom Gicquel/Ronan Labar 10-21, 12-21 in 28-minute before Lakshya Sen lost the third men’s singles match 20-22, 21-19, 19-21 to Toma Junior Popov of France.

India will meet Australia on Monday.

Playing without Olympic silver medalist P V Sindhu and the Commonwealth Games bronze medalist women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy, India’s Saina Nehwal couldn’t contribute the first point for her country as she went down 21-15, 16-21, 16-21 to Michelle Li of Canada in the Uber Cup first women’s singles match.

Indian went on to lose the second women’s singles match before the doubles pair of Meghana Jakkampudi/Poorvisha S Ram, ranked World No. 41, gave India the only point of the tie by seeing off Michelle Tong/Josephine Wu 21-19, 21-15 in 27 minutes before losing two other matches.

The India’s women’s team will Australia as well on Monday.


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