Srikanth, Sindhu, Loh record  contrasting victories, Ashmita creates upset at Yonex-Sunrise India Open 

Harpal Singh Bedi

New Delhi: Top seeds  K. Srikanth,  PV Sindhu, title contender Loh Kean Yew chalked out contrasting victories  while  Ashmita  Chaliha  created a major upset on the opening day of the  Yonex-Sunrise India Open, Badminton  at the KD Jadhav Indoor hall on Tuesday.

Former champion  Srikanth  faced some resistance in the first game but he regrouped himself  quickly  to  outlast   compatriot and  former junior world No. 1 Siril Verma 21-17, 21-10 to advance to the second round while in women section PV Sindhu  overwhelmed  compatriot Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli her 21-5, 21-16  in just under half an hour.

World champion Loh  had to wage a tough battle to overpower Canada’s Xiaodong Sheng 16-21, 21-4, 21-13

However opening round’s biggest upset was recorded  by young  Ashmita Chaliha  who overcame  and a late fightback from her opponent to upset fifth seed Evgeniya Kosetskaya of Russia 24-22, 21-16.

In men’s singles, Verma threatened to take the match to Srikanth by closing the gap at 9-9 following a slow start. But once the world championships silver medallist stepped on the pedal and began controlling the rallies, the result was a forgone conclusion.

“First rounds are really tough and especially when you are playing a fellow Indian are much tougher,” said Srikanth while explaining the time needed to get going in the opening game.

Srikanth will now face Denmark’s Kim Brunn, who defeated India’s Subhankar Dey 21-19, 18-21, 21-14 in one hour and 15 minutes.

PV Sindhu  virtually toyed with Krishna Priya in the opening game. Though she relaxed a bit in the second, the former world champion never needed to hit top gear during the 27-minute encounter.

“First match is always important and I did not take it easy. I went with the flow and finished it off,” Sindhu  said after the match.

Loh,  playing his first tournament since clinching the world title clearly struggled to find his rhythm in the opening game and was seen talking to himself during the initial exchanges to try and push himself.

He never looked in control in that game but suddenly changed gears in the second game and raced to a 10-0 lead before dropping the first point of the game. In the decider, Sheng managed to keep pace with the Singaporean till 6-6 before Loh bagged 10 of the next 12 points to take control of the match.

Fifth seed Loh will face Malayasia’s Joo Ven Soong in the second round on Thursday.

Chaliha  started  confidently  employing her down the line smashes to open up an 11-5 lead in the opening game and looked comfortable against the tall Russian.

However, she began making a lot of errors after the break and Kosetsyaka pounced on the opportunity to first level the score at 14-14 and then again fought back from 16-19 to earn her first game point.

But the Guwahati-girl, who had lost to the world No. 28 Russian in their earlier encounter back in 2019, managed to regroup herself in time to force the Russian to make an unforced error and then save two more game points before clinching the game with a smash.

The second game followed a similar trajectory as Chaliha opened up an 11-4 lead only for the Russian to close in to 19-16. However, the Indian was more in control this time around and kept her cool under pressure to finish off the match in 31 minutes.

“I haven’t played a lot of matches in the last few years. So, I was nervous and that affected me midway in the opening game. But once I won the first game, I was more confident and so I was relaxed in the second game,” she said after the match

She will now face France’s Yaelle Hoyaux, who defeated India’s Riya Mookerjee 21-14, 21-13.

In the day’s other matches  K Sai Prateekh and Gayatri Gopichand defeated Ishaan Bhatnagar and Tanisha Castro 21-16, 16-21, 21-17 while men’s doubles top seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan got their campaign off to a winning start by beating Prem Singh Chouhan and Rajesh Verma 21-18, 21-10.

In the women’s doubles, former junior national champions Ritika Thaker and Simran Singh fought back after losing the opening game to beat Mariia Stoliarenko and Yelyzaveta Zharka of Ukraine 14-21, 22-20, 21-19 to advance to the second round.

Other important results:

Women’s singles: Seed 3-Jia Min Yeo bt Disha Gupta 21-7, 21-10; Seed 6-Supanida Katethong bt Rituparna Das 21-12, 21-7

Men’s singles Seed-10; Kim Brunn bt Subhankar Dey 21-19, 18-21, 21-14; Sergey Sirant bt June Wei Cheam 22-20, 21-18; 5-

Men’s doubles: 1-Hendra Setiawan/Mohammad Ahsan bt Prem Singh Chouhan/Rajesh Verma 21-18, 21-10; 3-Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi bt Ravikrishna PS/Sankar Prasad Udayakumar 21-19, 21-14

Women’s doubles: 7-Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand bt Anastasiya Prozorova/Valeriya Rudakova 21-12, 21-10 

Mixed Doubles: 1-Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing bt Pratik Ranade/Kanika Kanwal 21-10, 21-11; 7-Dhruv Kapila/N Sikki Reddy bt Chirag Arora/Nishu Rapria 21-11, 21-11;

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World Champion Loh confident of good showing at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open

Harpal Singh Bedi 

New Delhi: World  Badminton  Champion Loh Kean Yew on Monday exuded confidence  of performing well  atthe Yonex-Sunrise India Open  starting at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall, IG  stadium here from Tuesday 11 January 2022.

Singapore’s first World Championships gold medallist admitted  that he hasn’t got enough time to train after his triumph in Huelva, Spain, but was hopeful of commencing  the New Year with a title  win.

The champion, seeded fifth at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open, is aware that he would be the player to beat this year after the stupendous run in the World Championship but points out that it won’t be easy to maintain the same form in every tournament.

“I ended the year on a high so it was a good year… Nobody will always win. The pressure is always there. I just hope that I can play the best and I can perform,” he opined.

Loh,  defeated Kidambi Srikanth in the World Championships final and the Indian who is top seeded  here is expected to be his biggest challenger along with bronze medallist Lakshya Sen, who is playing in this tournament for the first time.

“There are a lot of good players here and it is not going to be an easy competition for sure. Everyone is coming here to do well… same for me too. I also want to do well and I also want to win this tournament,” said Loh, who will open his campaign against Canada’s Xiaodong Sheng on Tuesday.

Before going to Spain, Loh had trained in Dubai with Tokyo Olympics champion Viktor Axelsen and Sen and said the young Indian was an extremely talented player.

“He is a very good friend of mine and I actually have a very good relationship and I am happy to see him do well in his first world championship,” Loh said

Meanwhile, experienced Indian men’s doubles combination of B Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Atri along with men’s singles fourth seed Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand have withdrawn from the competition.

However, Sumeeth will be in action in mixed doubles alongside Ashwini Ponnappa with the pair taking on second seeds Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova in the opening round.

Among women’s players, eighth seed Fitriani Fitriani and women’s doubles top seeds Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Projongjai of Thailand have also pulled out.

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Hopeful that playing at home will help India in AFC  Asian Cup: Women’s football team coach Thomas Dennerby  

Harpal Singh Bedi

Thomas Dennerby  

New Delhi: Indian women football team’s head coach Thomas Dennerby  says that players are  training  hard in  preparation  of the AFC  Asian Cup India 2022 “Now, it’s just a few days left, and we are doing the final preparations. We are just fine tuning a few things for the team right now”

“We are going to take it one game at a time. If you start thinking about too much and if you already think about combinations and permutations, that can be harmful for the players. “

“The staff can do such things to try and find a way that is good for us, but players should always focus on the next 90 minutes. Players should always take it step by step

Talking to AIFF media,  the coach  admitted that playing at home has its  advantages “ I think it’s an advantage to play at home — always a good feeling as a player. My experience says you feel more comfortable at home, hopefully that will help us.

“Would have been nice to have a crowd, but now we know that with COVID that is not possible. But it will still be nice to play at home “

  Agreeing that it  is going to be a big tournament for the girls Dennerby  said   We have been preparing since August. Have been working hard, and been doing 8-10 sessions every week, and we’ve also have a few exposure tours in Bahrain, UAE, Sweden, Brazil. We have played different kinds of teams, some higher ranked, some lower ranked than us..

“When you come to big tournaments, it’s always tough, and it should be. The first game against Iran, I think we have a good chance in that game, and if we do get three points, that will help us a lot before the second game.

But still, if we don’t handle the first game, we need to go into the second game with the aim of winning. We played Chinese Taipei in Bahrain who are a very good team. But we still have a chance of winning, and we can take points.   I have a feeling that we can do well. China will probably be the toughest one — technically good players, good combination play, but I hope that we can use the speed we have upfront

Talking about the squad the coach said “ We have a good bunch of experienced and young players who are hungry to prove themselves on the pitch.. Football is not just about what you do on the field or on the ground. It’s also about being in the camp, when you are spending all your time with your teammates. So the experienced bunch can help there. Both can help each other

“So it’s always good to have the younger ones come and push the older ones. But it also works the other way round, as the more experienced bunch can guide the younger ones to do the right things. To not take too much stress before games, how to behave before and after the match  “ he opined adding “For some reason, you tend to get a bit more relaxed as you get older — that’s just the natural order of things.

.Asked about India’s chance of qualifying for the Women’s World Cup  next year  Dennerby said  “We plan for everything – but step by step. But I think we have a good chance of being in the quarterfinals. But if we get to the quarterfinal, and so does Australia, then we will have the dream to come to the World Cup all the way to February 2023.

 “There will be play-offs to decide who progresses. But first of all, we need to get to the quarter-final, and then we take it from there. If we are there, anything can happen. If there’s a higher ranked team, the pressure is on them to perform.” he added

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26 December declared as Veer Bal Diwas to commemorate the supreme sacrifice by Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh

Sanatan Mission had been raising this demand for a long time.

As the People of India celebrate “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, Government of India has decided to commemorate 26th December as “Veer Baal Diwas” (वीर बाल दिवस) in the honor of supreme sacrifice made by Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh; younger sons of tenth Sikh Guru Govind Singh JiTherefore, the Government of India has declared 26th December as “Veer Baal Diwas” (वीर बाल दिवस). This decision has been taken as a tribute of the grateful Nation to the great valour and supreme sacrifice of Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh in their quest for justice.

Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh gave their supreme and unparalleled sacrifice on 26th December, 1705 at the tender age of 9 and 6 years respectively to defend the dignity and honor of Sikhism.

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