Calcutta: Saina Nehwal guided the Indian women’s team to a superb 5-0 win over Canada to launch their Uber Cup campaign in style, in New Delhi on Sunday.
The darlings of the home crowd, Saina and P V Sindhu, enthralled those present at the Siri Fort Sports Complex, with their dominating performance over their opponents.
Captain Saina led from the front, starting the proceedings with an easy 21-4, 21-12 win over Joycelyn Ko. She needed only 25 minutes to get over with the match. Then Sindhu brushed off the initial jitters to crush Rachael Honderich 21-16, 21-3 in a 26-minute lop-sided second singles match.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa then completed the rout with a 21-11, 21-12 win over Bruce Alex and Phyllis Chan in the first women’s doubles.
Playing the third singles, P C Thulasi didn’t want to be left behind of he more illustrious peers and thrashed Brittney Tam 21-11, 21-13 to make it 4-0 in India’s favour.
Doubles pair of Pradnya Gadre and Sikki Reddy N then bounced back from a game down to edge out Grace Gao and Rachael Honderich 20-22, 21-18, 21-16 to complete the whitewash. India will take on Hong Kong on Monday.
In other matches, defending champions China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia sailed through their opening encounters.
Earlier, India began their campaign in the Li-Ning BWF Thomas Cup on a rather dismal note, but RMV Gurusaidutt remained the only bright spot.
At the Siri Fort Sports Complex, the hosts went down 4-1 against former champions Malaysia in group C, on a day when Korea and Denmark survived some anxious moments as the biennial tournament got off to a rousing start. India were always the underdogs going into the match against the mighty Malaysians, but the likes of K. Srikanth, Gurusaidutt and the doubles combination of Akshay Dewalkar and Praanav Jerry Chopra did try to put up a fight.
Gurusaidutt ensured that the Indians had something to show for their effort when he got the better of Daren Liew 18-21, 21-13, 21-19 to give India one point in the tie.
“It was a good match for me and the win was important. You don’t know when the match will turn. If we win against Korea, depending on the margin of victory, this win will count. This was the third time I was meeting Daren Liew. I have played him before in the IBL.
Srikanth and Kashyap lost their singles match in straight games and the doubles pair of Sumeeth Reddy B and Manu Attri too went down without a fight as India surrendered the tie 0-3 after the first three matches.
In the fourth match, doubles pair of Akshay Dewalkar and Pranaav Jerry Chopra managed to take a game away from their rivals before going down in three games.
Srikanth staged a brilliant fightback in the opening game against world No. 1 Chong Wei, saving five game points in the first game. However, the Malaysian simply raised the bar in the second to win the tie 21-19, 21-12. The Malaysians breezed through the second singles and first doubles to clinch the tie 3-0, before Dewalkar and Chopra pulled off a game against V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan before losing 21-17, 14-21, 21-14.
“I was simply concentrating on winning the last point because I have lost some matches losing concentrating in the last few points. I think we still have a very good chance to go through,” said Guru Sai Dutt after the match.
In the other Group C match, Korea had to twice come back from behind to beat Germany 3-2.