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Ashmita stuns Okuhara, and Anmol shines again as India beat Japan to move into the final of BATC

Anmol Kharb produced a clutch win for India yet again as she beat Natsuki Nidaira to lead India past Japan and into the final of the Badminton Asia Team Championships. With the fixture tied at 2-2, Anmol played the fifth and final match and put up a brilliant show to beat Nidaira 21-14, 21-18 and take India into their maiden final.

Anmol, the young national champion who had taken India past China into the quarters, wrapped up the opening game in quick time as she led 11-7 at the break and improved that to a 19-14 lead before closing out the game. Nidaira put up a strong fight in the second game to race away to a 4-1 lead, but Anmol fought back to make it 11-9 in her favour and ran away to a sizeable lead before sealing the win.

Earlier in the day, Ashmita Chaliha delivered a massive upset as she beat former world champion and former World #1 Nozomi Okuhara 21-17, 21-14 to give India a 2-1 lead. Chaliha was at her clinical best to earn her career’s biggest win, a win which also gave India a very crucial lead after PV Sindhu lost the opening match.

Sixteen-year-old Anmol showed a mature gave, much above her age. (Image: The Hindu)

Sindhu, making her comeback after an injury layoff, lost her first match of the tournament as she was undone 13-21, 20-22 by Japan’s Aya Ohori in the opening fixture. The two-time Olympic medallist produced a fine fight back in the second game and was agonizingly close to forcing a decider, but Ohori prevailed for her first win over her more-fancied opponent.

Next stepped up the doubles duo of Gayatri and Treesa, who got off to a strong start against Matsuyama-Shida. The Indian duo clinched the opening game 21-17, before the Japanese culled their way back into the contest by taking the second game 21-16. It all boiled down to the deciding third game and Gayatri-Treesa had a comfortable 11-7 lead at the interval, but Matsuyama-Shida fought back to trail by just one point at 18-19. The Indian pair held on pocket the win, which was followed by a superb victory for Chaliha.

The fourth match-up of the encounter saw Sindhu make a rare doubles appearance as she teamed up with Aswhini Ponnappa to take on Miyaura-Sakuramoto. A win here would have taken India into the final. but it turned out to be a challenge too steep as Sindhu-Ponnappa lost 14-11, 11-21. However, the pressure did not get to Anmol as she battled the pressure to scalp a memorable win.

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