Tuesday, May 22, 2018
TEXT BY GAYLE ALLEYNE | BADMINTONPHOTO
Indonesia recovered from the shock demise of world No.1 pair, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, to beat Thailand in Group B of the Thomas Cup tonight.
The usually-unbeatable dynamos found themselves under relentless attack in the first doubles match – after Anthony Ginting had put Indonesia 1-0 ahead in singles – and appeared increasingly frustrated and off their game versus Kittisak Namdash and Nipitphon Phuangphuapet (featured image) as the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2018 continued at Impact Arena. Amid boisterous cheers from home fans, the fired-up scratch combination pressured their esteemed rivals into submission, winning 21-16 13-21 21-12 to keep their team in contention at 1-1.
Having lost to Korea on Sunday, the hosts were desperate to stay alive in the 16-team tournament and Impact Arena and this surprise Men’s Doubles success was just the lift they needed.
“Our aim was to attack first and we were able to pressure them. We have practised together but this is our first match as a pair,” said an ecstatic Phuangphuapet.
Meanwhile, an irritated Sukamuljo complained about being called for service faults on a number of occasions, noting it has not happened to him previously. He would have certainly been pleased to watch his team-mates – second-singles player, Ihsan Maulana Mustofa, and doubles tandem Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto – come to the rescue, ensuring Indonesia’s ambitions remain on track.
Mustofa held off a determined Kantaphon Wangcharoen, even saving a match in the decider (16-21 21-8 24-22), before the second Men’s Doubles duo secured the tie; 21-10 21-18 versus local hopefuls Tinn Isriyanet/Dechapol Puavaranukroh.
“We are happy to get the winning point for our team, especially after Marcus and Kevin lost. We were very motivated to do well and now we are looking forward to the quarter-finals,” said a confident Alfian after making the overall score 3-1. The 2016 Thomas Cup runners-up also snatched the last point as Firman Abdul Kholik brushed aside Pannawit Thongnuam (21-19 21-14) for a 4-1 result.
Meanwhile, China ensured their progress to the quarter-finals with their third straight 5-0 sweep to top Group A – this time against India. Once again, the Chinese showcased their impressive artillery as Chen Long, Shi Yuqi and Lin Dan lined up for singles duty while Liu Cheng/Zhang Nan and Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen were up front in doubles. France also advanced to the last eight as the Group A runner-up, downing Australia 5-0.
In the Uber Cup, world No.1 Tai Tzu Ying spearheaded her country’s course into the knockout stage. The competent Chinese Taipei squad moved past Germany without losing any of the five matches. This sets up a mouth-watering battle against Thailand tomorrow night to determine which team tops Group B and will likely feature an opening singles clash with Tai against equally talented Ratchanok Intanon who will have the weight of home support behind her.