The Indian women’s team qualified for the Uber Cup badminton tournament quarterfinals despite suffering a narrow 2-3 loss to powerhouse Japan in its third and final Group D match in Kunshan on Wednesday.
The men’s team, however, continued its dismal run in the Thomas Cup and crashed out after being blanked 0-5 by Indonesia in their third match of Group B at the Kunshan Sports Center Stadium.
The Indian men’s team had lost to Thailand and Hong Kong in its last two outings and will return winless from China.
In Uber Cup, ace shuttlers Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu notched up straight-game victories in the first two singles but Indian eves could not win the two doubles and third singles to go down fighting to 2014 runners-up Japan.
Olympic bronze medallist, Saina defeated World No. 5 Nozomi Okuhara 18-21 6-21 to avenge her only loss to the Japanese at the Dubai World Superseries Finals last year and give her team a 1-0 lead.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad fought back from 3-7 15-18 down to pocket the first game and then dished out a dominating game to zoom past Okuhara in the second game to complete the victory in 38 minutes.
In the second singles, two-time World Championship bronze medallist, P V Sindhu notched up a 21-11 21-18 win over World No. 11 Akane Yamaguchi in a 36-minute clash to guide India to a 2-0 lead.
However, Jwala Gutta combined with N Sikki Reddy to take on the formidable World No. 1 pair of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi and went down without a fight 11-21 8-21 within half an hour in the first women’s doubles.
In the third singles, Ruthvika Shivani Gadde was entrusted with the responsibility of taming World No. 12 Sayaka Sato and the Indian expectedly could not match up, going down 7-21 14-21 in 29 minutes to allow Japan draw parity.
In the decider, Ashwini Ponnappa paired up with Sindhu but their gallant fight ended with a 21-15 19-21 16-21 loss to Shizuka Matsuo and Mami Naito as Indian eves lost 2-3 in their final league match.