Shuttler Unnati Hooda gave India a chance at survival

Teen shuttler Unnati Hooda shone brightly as India eked out a 3-2 win over Australia in their third Group B match of the mixed team event at the BWF World Junior Championships, in Santander on Tuesday.

Hooda, the 15-year-old from Haryana, kept India afloat in the tie after the men’s doubles pair of Arsh Mohammad and Abhinav Thakur lost the opening match.

The women’s pair of Isharani Baruah and Devika Sihag and the mixed doubles combination of Vignesh Thathineni and Srinidhi Narayanan then claimed victories in the last two matches as India emerged winners.

Earlier, Arsh and Abhinav failed to get across Ricky Tang and Otto Xing De Zhao, going down 12-21, 17-21 to hand Australia the advantage.

Unnati, the Odisha Open champion, dished out a clinical performance to outclass Sydney Go 21-6, 21-9 to bring India back into the contest.

In the men’s singles match, Bharat Raghav’s fight ended with a narrow 19-21, 21-16, 15-21 loss to Jack Yu as Australia led 2-1.

Isharani and Devika then took centre stage and defeated Australia’s Dania Nugroho and Catrina Chia-Yu Tan 21-8, 21-8 to make it 2-2.

Vignesh and Srinidhi then provided the finishing touch with a 21-12, 21-16 win over Otto Xing De Zhao and Yuelin Zhang to take India home.

India had defeated Iceland 5-0 before suffering a 0-5 loss to China and will take on Slovenia in their final Group B match.

India signed off in 12th place in the last edition in 2019, with the country’s best result being a fourth-place finish in the 2008 edition.

India are currently in the second position in their group, behind China. Only the team finishing at the top will qualify for the quarterfinals, while the second-placed teams will compete for places 9-16. The team finishing third in the group will play for positions 17-24, while the fourth-placed sides will compete for positions 25-32 and the fifth-placed teams for the 33-38 spots.

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