Kolkata: India continued to bank on the womanpower to add to the lone silver medal which Mirabai Chanu gave them as PV Sindhu, their star shuttler, moved to Round of 16 when she overcame world No. 34 Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong 21-9, 21-16 in her final Group J tie in Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday.
Deepika Kumari, world No.1 ranked archer, defeated USA’s Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez 6-4 at Yumenoshima Ranking Field in the 1/16 eliminations round.
Sindhu’s star value on the badminton court has been acknowledged by the international media in Tokyo. ‘‘She plays with geometry, creativity, power, touch, variety, shrewdness and also aplomb. It’s like going to some sporting event while also going to some art exhibit,’’ wrote The Washington Post.
Her better court coverage and her use of the angles was the key to her victory against the 28-year old Cheung, who lost her sixth consecutive career match to the tall Indian shuttler.
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The sixth-seeded Sindhu raced to an 11-5 lead as Cheung fruitlessly tried to push the 26-year old Indian deep into the corners of the forehand backcourt, ending up pushing the shuttles long.
Sindhu, giving almost nothing in the forecourt with superb net play, soon wrapped up the first game 21-9.
Cheung fought back in the second game, moving Sindhu to the far backhand corner and taking to a 7-6 lead. But as the rallies grew longer, Sindhu’s power came to her rescue on several times.
But Cheung’s relentless onslaught kept her neck-and-neck with the Sindhu, who sent a few shuttles wide in trying to end long rallies.
Cheung’s deception continued to keep her in the match, but Sindhu played an superb down-the-line smash from almost the edge of the backhand corner to make it 15-14.
In archery, Deepika disappointed in the first set as she registered a score of 25 while the opponent from the US scored 26 to take a 2-0 lead.
The Indian staged a comeback in the second set and hence she brought the scoreline level to 2-2. Continuing from where she left off, the Indian archer dominated the third set, and she went on to take a 4-2 lead in the match.
Deepika was not able to wrap up the match in Set 4 as Fernandez made a comeback, bringing the scoreline level at 4-4 and the match progressed to the fifth and deciding set.
However, in the deciding set, Deepika held her own to win the match 6-4 and progressed to the 1/8 eliminations round. Earlier in the day, Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav crashed out of men’s individual archery after losing in the 1/16 eliminations round.
Earlier, the Indian women’s hockey team went down fighting 1-4 in their Pool A match against defending champions Great Britain, and with only two game remaining - against Ireland and South Africa on July 30 and 31, respectively - qualification for the knockouts is getting tougher for the Rani Rampal-led side.
India now have to win both their games to qualify for the quarterfinals here.