Chinese duo prevent India clean sweep in Junior and Cadet Open

Mumbai: Chinese paddlers Yanmei Yang and Anqi Li prevented an Indian clean sweep of team gold medals as they made short work of the hosts in the Junior Girls section to take the yellow metal in the USD 8,000 India Junior and Cadet Open at the NSCI Stadium here on Thursday.

Yang and Li surprised India A`s Manika Batra and Suthirtha Mukherjee, both ranked No. 30 and No. 60 in the world respectively, for the second time in two days to win the final 3-1 and earn USD 500 for their fine efforts.

The other three categories saw the hosts winning the remaining three gold medals and a major share of the prize money.

In fact, all the silver medals also went the hosts` way with a few bronze?losing semifinalists get bronze?too falling into their laps to make larger booty for India.

However, Manika and Suthirtha failed to pick themselves up in the face of a good, calculated assault by the two Chinese girls.

Manika started on a brave note, attacking from both flanks, to win her first two games against Anqi Li. But the Chinese, surprised by Manka`s attacking game slowed down a bit to upset the Indian`s rhythm.

It seemed to have worked well for Li who took the next game, but a cautious Manika put an end to the Chinese design by winning the fourth to take the first rubber 5-11, 5-11, 11-6, 5-11.

But Suthirtha, the weak link in the team, could not measure up to the pace of Yanmei Yang. The latter just mowed her down in straight games after rattling her in the first in less than six minutes at 11-3. However hard Suthirtha tried in the next games, she was not able to counter those scorching forehands from Yang.

With the doubles rubber too in their pocket, it was left to Li to take on Manika in her reverse singles. Manika had the measure of her opponent, leading 2-0 in the fourth rubber. But she lost her way with several unforced errors in the third game which Li took 12-10 to trail 1-2.

This was when the Chinese aggression showed its way and Li just allowed three points to her opponent in the game. With the gold just a game away, Li`s pounding with crucial winners brooked little challenge from Manika.

The India A combine of Abhishek Yadav and Sudhanshu Grover defeated Chinmay Vinod and Sanish Ambekar of India E 3-0 without any inhibition in the Junior Boys final.

In fact, no one expected the unranked Vinod and Ambekar to roll their opponents over, but in the semifinals they had already spoilt the reputation of Utkarsh Gupta (261) and Sabhya Virmani(380).

The two world-ranked Delhi players surrendered meekly to the guiles of Vinod and Sanish.

Though the Cadet Boys` and Girls` gold medals went to India A teams, the Cadet Boys semifinal saw an interesting duel between India C and India B which the former won 3-1.

India B`s Ayush Tayal and Arjun Ghosh, who were in great form until them, bowed out in the semifinals when Lalrin Puia and Lalhunhlua, the two boys from Mizoram, played excellent games to outwit the experienced Tayal and Ghosh.

Puia, in particular, proved to be a hard nut to crack as he won both his singles to pave their way into the final.

In the Cadet Girls`, India A`s Calange Ravichandran and Sagarika Mukherjee beat India B`s Moumita Dutta and Sreeja Akula 3-1. The later, giving a good fight, managed to win the doubles.