|PV Sindhu in action against Bellaetrix Manuputty, in New Delhi, on Thursday
New Delhi: It was a rare moment in a Indian badminton scene, when the doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa stole the limelight on Thursday night, despite the presence of their two celebrated teammates, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu.
At the Siri Fort Sports Complex here, playing the Uber Cup quarter finals against Indonesia, after Saina and Sindhu won the first two singles matches for India, the doubles pair staged a coup of sorts when they ousted the strong Indonesian duo of Greysia Polli and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari to complete a clean sweep for the hosts.
While the Indian coaching team, with the exception of Pullela Gopichand rushed into the court to embrace the two girls, Jwala wrapped the Indian flag around her and waved at the crowd.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Akhilesh Dasgupta was seen congratulating Jwala and Ashwini.
It was not long ago when Jwala was at loggerheads with the national body and was placed under life suspension. There was so much bitterness that Jwala had even moved court against the BAI. But, with success, the bitterness seems to have been forgotten.
“It is a great day… We have now won the bronze medal,” said Jwala later. “We knew how important the doubles match was. Playing five matches would have put us at a disadvantage. We were desperate for a win and were determined not to lose the doubles. We knew it depended on the four of us… Saina, Sindhu and the two of us,” she said.
Asked whether they were under any pressure when the Indonesians took four points from them at the closing stages of the second game, Jwala said: “There is always pressure … even when you start from 0-0. We were happy that we could unsettle them and left them guessing on court. At the same time, we must say that Saina and Sindhu took a lot of pressure off by winning the first two matches.”
Both Ashwini and Jwala said they would not have been under any pressure had they been asked to play the doubles as the second match of the tie. “That’s not a problem. Against Hong Kong, we played the second match. We can do it,” said Jwala.
Asked what should be India’s plan against Japan in the semi-finals, Jwala said: “Let us wait till tomorrow. We beat Indonesia today… that’s a huge achievement. All of us should celebrate the win.”
Ashwini said beating the Indonesians in doubles had always been a tough task. “They are a traditionally good side and always had a good doubles team. Even this team was very strong,” she opined.