Indian shuttlers start BWF World Junior Championships on a high: Here's all you need to know
India started their campaign at the BWF World Junior badminton championships on a high as junior shuttlers with a comfortable 4-1 win over the USA.
India started their campaign at the BWF World Junior badminton championships on a high as junior shuttlers Meisnam Meiraba and Tanisha Crasto guided India to a comfortable 4-1 win over USA in their opening Group E encounter in the mixed team event on Monday.
Goa's Crasto shone for India, winning her girls' doubles as well as mixed doubles matches. Playing alongside Chhattisgarh’s Ishaan Bhatnagar, in the mixed doubles event, Crasto delivered the first point to India by beating Jacob Zhang and Jessica Wang of the USA 22-20, 21-9.
Meiraba was the next to take the court in boys' singles event. The Junior World No. 10 stamped his authority in the contest against the 520th-ranked Alexander Zheng, defeating him 21-9, 21-11 in 26 minutes. Luwang has been in scintillating form this year — he triumphed at the Russian Junior White Nights and finished runner-up at the India Junior International.
In girls' singles event, Gujarat’s Tasnim Mir registered a 21-19, 25-23 win over Junior World No. 75 Natalie Chi to give India a 3-0 lead. Mir had clinched the Dubai Junior International Series earlier this month.
India, however, lost the fourth rubber. The boys’ doubles pair of Manjit Singh Khwairakpam and Iman Sonowal lost 23-25, 19-21 to William Yu and Joshua Yuan.
The in-form girls' doubles pair of Aditi Bhatt and Crasto then played the last match of the tie against Katelin Ngo and Esther Shi. The Indians, who secured back-to-back wins in the two selection tournaments, were made to work hard by the American pair before they pulled off a 21-16, 15-21, 21-7 win in 46 minutes.
Besides India and USA, other teams in Group E are Australia, Armenia and Japan. India lost to South Korea in the quarterfinals in the last edition of the tournament, in 2018.
Assessing India's chances at the tournament
The BWF World Junior Championships is organised to crown the best junior badminton players (under-19) in the world. The championships is held annually and consists of two separate competitions: a mixed team championships (Suhandinata Cup) followed by an individual championships (Eye Level Cups). The precursor of the championships was the Bimantara World Junior Invitational held in Indonesia from 1987 to 1991. In 1992, International Badminton Federation (former name of Badminton World Federation) started the first IBF World Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia. BWF later decided the championships will be held annually instead of biennially starting from the 2007 edition. The ongoing one is the 21st edition of the tournament.
In 2018, Lakshya Sen earned India a bronze in the boys’ singles at the BWF World Junior badminton championships. This time around, emulating a similar performance will be a tough task for the 23-member squad that has travelled to Kazan, Russia later this month. India's hopes will rest upon Manipur’s Maisnam Meiraba (2018 Asian Championships u-17 singles bronze medallist), Tamil Nadu’s Satish Kumar and Gujarat’s Tasnim Mir. However, not playing too many international tournaments earlier can prove a hurdle. The exposure, though, will be crucial in the players’ development.
History of India at the tournament
Since the beginning of the tournament, India have won eight medals so far. In 2006, Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal bagged the silver medal -- the first Indian ever to win a medal at the tournament. After defeating Korea's Bae Youn-Joo 25-23, 21-13 in the semi-finals, Saina went down against China's Wang Yihan 21-13, 21-9 in the finals to settle with a silver. Saina turned professional in 2006 and after two years of training, she became the first Indian woman to win the World Junior Badminton Championships which was held in Pune in 2008. Saina beat Japanese rival Sayaka Sato 21-9 21-18 in just 25 minutes to bag the coveted gold medal. It has been 11 years and India is yet to win another gold in the tournament.
Apart from Saina, all the other medals won by Indians have been in the boys' singles category. While Saina claimed the top honours in 2008, it was Gurusai Dutt who was the first one to win a medal in the boys' singles event. He won the bronze after losing 16–21, 21–17, 17–21 to China's Wang Zhengming.
In 2010, Sai Praneeth and H S Prannoy had their moment of glory where in Mexico, where both of them finished with bronze medals in their bags in the semi-final stage. While Praneeth was defeated by Denamark's Viktor Axelsen 19-21, 21-15, 21-15, Prannoy went down against Korea's Kang Ji Wook 21-13, 21-9.
Sameer Verma finished the 2011 edition of the World Youth Badminton Championships with a bronze. After an impressive run to the semifinal following a 21-15, 21-16 victory over Hong Kong's Ng Ka Long in the quarters, Sameer was outplayed by Axelsen 21-19, 21-19.
In 2015, Siril Verma became the second Indian to reach the finals of the tournament after Saina Nehwal. In the summit clash of the boys' singles event, Siril was defeated by Chinese Taipe's Chia Hung Lu 17-21, 21-10, 21-7.
India's Lakshya Sen, who has now moved to senior level, was the fourth-seeded in the 2018 edition and he finished with a bronze at Markham, Canada. Lakshya Sen was up against the top seed and world junior number one Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand and could not overcome the huge challenge 22-20, 16-21, 13-21 and bowed out with a bronze.