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India targets historic gold after defeating Japan

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Indian women’s badminton scripted a historic win over Japan in the semi-finals of the Badminton Asia Team Championships to reach the final on Saturday.

India defeated Japan 3-2 who were without their main shuttler Akane Yamaguchi. India will face Thailand in the final on Sunday.

The world No. 23 pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, world No. 53 Ashmita Chaliha, and 17-year-old Anmol Kharb registered stunning wins in the first doubles and second and deciding singles to take India through to the summit clash.

India had won two bronze medals in the men’s team event in the 2016 and 2020 editions.

Returning from a long injury layoff, PV Sindhu failed to win her third game on a trot as left-handed Aya Ohori defeated her in straight games 21-13, 22-20.

Playing the first women’s doubles, Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand came up with a superb performance to outsmart the world number six pair of Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida.

The Indian pair won 21-17, 16-21, 22-20 in a match that went on for 73 minutes.

With the match tied at 1-1, youngster Ashmita Chaliha faced former world champion Nozomi Okuhara in the third match of the tie.

Left-handed Ashmita produced an aggressive game against the world number 20 and used her overhead cross drops and jump smashes to good use. She defeated Okuhara 21-17, 21-14 in straight games to give India a 2-1 lead.

With Tanisha Crasto suffering a niggle, Sindhu then paired up with Ashwini Ponnappa but they couldn’t get across the world No. 11 pair of Rena Miyaura and Ayako Sakuramoto, losing 14-21, 11-21 in 43 minutes.

With the five-match rubber evenly poised at 2-2, Anmol was handed the responsibility of taming world No. 29 Natsuki Nidaira, and the Indian once again lived up to the expectation, claiming a 21-14, 21-18 win in 52 minutes.

Tough task against Thailand in the final

India will have to overcome Thailand in a bid to win their first-ever gold medal in the history of the tournament.

Thailand is without world No. 13 Ratchanok Intanon and world No. 16 Pornpawee Chochuwong. Their singles will be spearheaded by world no. 17 Supanida Katethong and world no. 18 Busanan Ongbamrungphan.

Supanida has troubled Sindhu in the past but the Indian will have to pull out of her match, while Ashmita will fancy her chances against Busanan and Anmol will be expected to fight it out against world no 45 Pornpicha Choeikeewong.

Doubles remain Thailand’s strength with world No. 10 pair of Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai, and world No. 13 Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard in their ranks.



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