Badminton Asia Team Championships: Indian women through to maiden final

Indian women enter final
India will face Thailand in the final on Sunday. Photo: X@BAI_Media

Shah Alam (Malaysia): Indian women shuttlers' dream run continued as they progressed to their first-ever final at the Badminton Asia Team Championships after edging out two-time former champions Japan 3-2 in a thrilling semifinal here on Saturday.

World No. 23 pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, world No. 53 Ashmita Chaliha and the 17-year-old Anmol Kharb registered stunning wins in the first doubles and second and deciding singles to take India through to the summit clash.

India will face Thailand in the final on Sunday.

Though Japan were without their world No. 4 Akane Yamaguchi, world No. 7 pair of Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota and world No. 8 combination of Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara, they were still a formidable side, making it a tough battle for India.

Returning from a long injury layoff, Sindhu had enjoyed wins against China's Han Yue and Hong Kong's Lo Sin Yan Happy but she couldn't produce her best against the left-handed Aya Ohori, going down 13-21, 20-22 in the first singles to peg India back.

Treesa and Gayatri, playing the first doubles, dished out a superlative performance to outwit world No. 6 Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida 21-17, 16-21, 22-20 in a 73-minute contest as India drew level at 1-1.

Up against former world champion Nozomi Okuhara, who is currently ranked world No. 20, the left-handed Ashmita produced an aggressive game, using her overhead cross drops and jump smashes to good use, to record a shocking 21-17, 21-14 win to hand India a 2-1 lead.

With Tanisha Crasto suffering a niggle, Sindhu then paired up with Ashwini Ponnappa but they couldn't get across the world No. 11 pair of Rena Miyaura and Ayako Sakuramoto, losing 14-21, 11-21 in 43 minutes.

With the five-match rubber evenly poised at 2-2, Anmol was handed the responsibility of taming world No. 29 Natsuki Nidaira and the Indian once again lived up to the expectation, claiming a 21-14, 21-18 win in 52 minutes.

The final appearance keeps India's hopes of winning a first-ever gold in the continental championship. India had won two bronze medals in men's team event in the 2016 and 2020 editions. 

The Indian men had gone down to Japan 2-3 in the quarterfinals on Friday.

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