Popat packs a punch - T & U Cup update
Aparna Popat the Indian No 1 led the host nation to a 4-1 win over Singapore in their opening Uber Cup tie at the Indira Ghandi Stadium in New Delhi today. Popat, the 22-year-old Commonwealth silver medallist and Indian No 1 took just 24 minutes to dispose of Fatimah Kumin Lim 11-3, 11-0. India now look favourites to top their group and a delighted Prakash Padukone, president of the Badminton Association of India said: "It's a great feeling. We thought Singapore would be the toughest match and we didn't really expect to win. It's given us a lot of confidence." In the other Uber Cup tie played today, Australia beat Sri Lanka 4-1 In the Thomas Cup, Zambia were disqualified by the referee David Hoppen, after they were unable to comply with tournament regulations which state that teams must arrive 24 hours before the time of their first tie. This left only three teams in Group B, Australia, Singapore and Iran who this evening lost 5-0 to Singapore. In the best match of the day Mauritius, in the Thomas Cup, scraped through 3-2 against Sri Lanka. China, favourites in the Thomas Cup, practiced late into the night on Sunday, with world champion Sun Jun, showing no signs of his recent leg injury. However, Chinese-Taipei were forced to withdraw Fung Permadi who suffered an arm injury in training before he left for India. Badminton in India has undergone a huge revival in the last two years with Aparna Popat and Pulella Gopichand, the Commonwealth bronze medallist leading the way. Hopes are high that for the first time since 1988, the Thomas Cup team will make it to the finals which take place in Kuala Lumpur in May. Fuelled by these expectations, India has been gripped by badminton fever with the event being covered live each day on national TV. And a press conference held yesterday by the IBF was packed to capacity. The first stage ties continue tomorrow and Tuesday with the 'big guns' making their debut in Delhi on Wednesday at the semi-final stage.