A new champion awaits as India and Thailand stormed into the women’s team finals after overcoming their rivals at the Selangor Badminton Asia Team Championships semifinal encounters at Setia City Convention Centre in Shah Alam. 


On a day which saw several major upsets, Indonesia’s hopes of a second successive title were dashed as Thailand clinched a 3-1 victory while India claimed their historical final spot for the first time after edging favourites Japan 3-2 in an encounter which saw several upsets created. 


India had hoped that their star player Pusarla V Sindhu, based on her current form, would be able to deliver the opening point. Instead, it was the Japanese who got the better of the world No.11 with a 21-13, 22-20 win to put Japan in the driver’s seat.


Japan were looking to widen the gap through their reputable duo, world No.6 Nami Matsuyama/Chiharu Shida but the young pair of Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand Pullela combined perfectly in the rubber game to upset their highly ranked rival 21-17, 16-21, 22-20, putting  India back on levelled terms. 


Then, 24-year-old Ashmita Chaliha inflicted another upset to put India in a 2-1 lead over Japan by outclassing world No.20 Nozomi Okuhara 21-17, 21-14 in 43 minutes. 


India’s hopes of causing another upset in the second doubles tie through Ashwini Ponappa/Pusarla V Sindhu did not materialise when world no. 11 pair Rena Miyaura/Ayako Sakuramoto forced a deciding tie after defeating the scratch pair 21-14 21-11 to draw level 2-2. 


India had to send in Sindhu for the tie, to fill in for Ponappa’s regular pair Tanisha Crasto who had to sit out due to injury.


It was then left to rising star Anmol Kharb to produce her magic against her highly-ranked rival Natsuki Nidaira (world No.29), who seems to have the advantage based on her recent performance. 


The 17-year-old Kharb showed maturity in her game, playing confidently and forcing Nidaira into making errors before causing the biggest upset of the day by winning in straight sets of 21-14, 21-18 to send India into the finals for the first time in the tournament’s history.


In the other semifinals, Thailand had rising pair Benyapa and Nuntakarn Aimsaard to thank after the sisters secured the winning point that sent the team into the finals after defeating Indonesian pair Amalia Cahaya Pratiwi/Rachel Allessya Rose 24-22, 21-14 in the second doubles tie. 


World No.17 Supanida Katethong had earlier taken the expected point with a commanding play which ended with the world No.17 winning 21-17, 21-19 over Putri Kusuma in the first singles. 


Doubles pair Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai then put Thailand within striking distance of the finals spot after defeating Lanny Tria Mayasari/Ribka Sugiarto 20-22, 21-14 in 43 minutes to give Thailand a 2-0 lead over Indonesia.


However, Indonesia’s world No.40 Ester Nurumi Tri Wardoyo put Thailand’s celebration on hold water causing the upset of the day when she dumped Thailand’s world No.18 Busanan Ongbamrungphan  25-23, 25-16 to keep Indonesia's hopes alive.


However, Benyapa Aimsard/Nuntakarn Aimsaard proved too strong for Amalia Cahaya Pratiwi/Rachel Allessya Rose with the Thai sisters finally finishing off the tie 24-22, 21-14.



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