Monday, May 22, 2017
TEXT BY GAYLE ALLEYNE | BADMINTONPHOTO
Thailand’s ambitions of reaching the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 quarter-finals were almost derailed tonight by a late-charging Hong Kong.
However, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai (featured image) kept fans and players from the ‘Land of Smiles’ happy as they defeated Mixed Doubles opponents Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah, 21-16 21-16, in the last match of the tie to seal victory 3-2.
Having already been humbled 4-1 by China in their first sub-group 1A clash yesterday, Hong Kong have no chance of advancing in the BWF World Mixed Team Championships in Gold Coast. They put in a gutsy performance though, rallying from 2-0 down in the centre-court battle to square the proceedings 2-2 – thanks to Men’s Singles hero, Ng Ka Long, and long-standing Women Doubles partners, Poon Lok Yan/Tse Ying Suet. The latter held firm in a 76-minute tussle with Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai, prevailing 15-21 21-18 14-21. Their team-mate Ng had set Hong Kong on the comeback trail with a polished dismissal of Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, 21-11 21-16.
It was all to play for as the late-night Mixed Doubles encounter began inside Gold Coast Sports & Leisure Centre with noisy camps from both teams cheering their players. Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai – who have recently come to the fore internationally – had the answers for all that their rivals threw at them, calmly controlling the first game and then gaining momentum at just the right time in the second as Lee and Chau threatened to pull away at 15-13 ahead. Puavaranukroh, who turned 20 on Sunday, gifted himself a belated birthday present with the winning smash.
“We played well. We didn’t feel any pressure though Hong Kong came back from 2-0 down. In the second game, we were lifting and defending a lot but, when we got to 15-15, we focused and played slower,” explained Taerattanachai.
Earlier Men’s Doubles unit, Bodin Isara and Nipitphon Phuangphuapet outlasted Or Chin Chung and Tang Chun Man, 22-20 17-21 21-11, in an hour and Women’s Singles star, Ratchanok Intanon, manoeuvred past Yip Pui Yin (21-14 21-17) to give Thailand the lead.
On the neighbouring court, Tai Tzu Ying was left to secure Chinese Taipei’s triumph over Russia and the world No.1 made no mistake, cruising through 21-13 21-11 in Women’s Singles versus Evgeniya Kosetskaya. The sub-group 1B tie began with Chinese Taipei taking Mixed Doubles (Wang Chi Lin and Lee Chia Hsin) and Men’s Singles (Chou Tien Chen). Russia snatched Men’s Doubles (Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov) to make the tie 2-1 before Tai settled the matter. Chinese Taipei ended 4-1 with Women’s Doubles (Hsu Ya Ching/Wu Ti Jung) going their way too.
“It’s exciting to play in this team event. I was glad we already had two points before I started my match. It was comfortable for me and I am happy to win. I don’t know how far we can go, but we will fight our best,” said Tai.
Meanwhile, the fortunes in sub-group 3B assumed greater clarity with Sri Lanka and Slovakia shaping up for a top-of-the table clash. They brushed aside Tahiti and Fiji respectively 5-0 to record their second wins of the tournament. Sri Lanka and Slovakia will meet on Wednesday afternoon to determine who tops their sub-group and progresses to fight for Group 3 honours.