Anmol Kharb: The 17-year-old sensation who sealed India’s first-ever Badminton Asia Team Championships title

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(ANI): During India’s landmark maiden Badminton Asia Team Championships title win, the country discovered a future star in 17-year-old shuttler Anmol Kharb, who went toe-to-toe with much-higher ranked stars of the sport and displayed composure and strokeplay beyond her years during her wins.

The Indian women’s badminton team on Sunday scripted history after they won maiden Badminton Asia Championships title in Malaysia’s Selangor. The Indian women’s badminton team defeated Thailand by 3-2 in the final match to get hold of their first-ever medal at the prestigious Badminton Asia Championships.

In these wins, Anmol had a crucial role to play. During the first clash against a powerful Chinese side, Anmol was playing a high-pressure decider game against world number 149 ranked Wu Luo Yu. Placed at world number 472 rank, Anmol secured a 22-20, 14-21, 21-18 win over the Chinese player after being level 1-1 after the second game, showcasing immense nerves and calm. This win took India to the quarterfinals.

In the quarterfinals held on Friday, Indian women’s team blanked Hong Kong 3-0 to reach the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time ever. With seniors PV Sindhu, Tanisha Crasto and Ashwini Ponnappa and Ashmita Chaliha delivering dominating performances, Kharb did not need to play. This win assured India of a medal atleast.

During the final-four clash against top-seed Japan to determine a finalist, the Indian team produced yet another world-class performance, helping India reach its first-ever final. They beat Japan by 3-2.

In the semifinals against Japan, India was once again at 2-2, with Anmol once again given the responsibility to play the match-deciding clash. She had a 52 minute clash with the world number 29 star Natsuki Nidaira. The gulf of rankings did not affect Anmol as she successfully dispatched the Japanese challenge by 21-14, 21-18 to secure India a berth in the final.

Coming to the final against Thailand, Olympic medallist PV Sindhu started for Team India and beat the 17th-ranked Supanida Katethong 21-12, 21-12. Sindhu dominated her Thai opponents in the opening singles rubber and ended the game in just 39 minutes.

In the second game, Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand stepped up yet again. Jolly-Gayatri clinched a win over Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai by 21-16, 18-21, 21-16 to give India a 2-0 lead.

However, Thai badminton players gave a fightback with Busanan Ongbamrungphan defeating Ashmita Chaliha by 21-11, 21-14 in the second singles rubber of the tie.

Priya Konjengbam and Shruti Mishra then lost 21-11, 21-9 to Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard, and took the match to the final round.

The 17-year-old Anmol Kharb had to play a pivotal in the final round however, she did not disappoint. While facing world No. 45 Pornpicha Choeikeewong in a high-pressure deciding match, Kharb walked away with a 21-14, 21-9 win to hand India a historic win in the tournament. (ANI)

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