Sunday, 16 May 2010

Did you feel the earth shake yesterday

The earth shook yesterday. If you are a sports fan, you would have felt it. And if you are a badminton fan, it measured 10 on the Richter scale.

The Thomas Cup and Uber Cup tournaments are going on in Kuala Lumpur. These are the Men's and Women's badminton world team championships. The Uber Cup , for women, is the private property of China. For the last 12 years they have been invincible. They usually complete the entire tournament without dropping a single match. Everybody else fights for the second place. The same was expected this year – in the world rankings in singles, the top five are Chinese. In the doubles, the top two are Chinese. Each tie in the Uber Cup consists of three singles and two doubles. What hope had anybody else got when China fields World No 1,2,3 in singles and Nos 1 and 2 in doubles.

China took its appointed place in the finals without losing a single match. In fact in all the matches, it dropped only a single game – thanks to Saina Nehwal of India. Facing them in the finals was South Korea. In the last five Uber Cup finals, it has been China vs South Korea . And the Chinese simply steamroller the Koreans and win, usually without dropping a match.

Of course, this is telecast live in China. I didn’t bother to tune in on time – what’s the point. I tuned in late into the first match – Wang Yihan of China, the World No 1 against Bae Seung-Hee, No 16 ranked. Bae played out of her skin, won the first game closely and then started to inch away in the second game. Unbelievably, she stood on match point and then won. The Koreans poured on to the court to celebrate.They had won the first of the best of five matches, a dream start.

Second on was the world no 1 doubles pair of Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli against the scratch combination of Lee Hyo Jung and Kim Min Jung for Korea who have never played before this tournament as a pair.The match developed into a classic – if you have ever watched badminton doubles you would know how incredibly athletic it can be . The crowd roars at every smash and the rallies are long. The Chinese won the first game and it looked like they would eventually triumph. But Lee and Kim would simply not give up. Kim was playing steady and Lee was going for outrageous shots and getting most of them. They won the second. The third game was neck and neck and then finally after an hour and six minutes of pulsating badminton, the Koreans won. I could scarcely believe the match score. Korea 2 : China 0

Third on court was Wang Xin, World No 2 for China against the virtually unranked Sung Ji Hyun. Wang looks like a 15 year old and on her slim shoulders rested China’s hopes. Sung looked barely older. Shrieking a like a schoolgirl at every point Wang raced away with first game. But Sung would not give up. Fighting for her life, she took the second. But that took all that she had. Wang simply ran away with the third game. Korea 2- China 1

Fourth on was the experienced Chinese doubles pair of Du Jing and Yu Yang. They were seasoned players and had the experience to win anytime. Against them were Lee Kyung Won and Ha Jung Eun, an unheralded pair. Another classic developed. The Koreans had scented blood and played at a breathtaking level. Each pair won a game each. The third game would be etched long in the memory of those who watched it. The crowd was going berserk and there were surely some ruptured eardrums. After four hours and thirteen minutes of scintillating badminton, it stood at match point for Korea – match and championship point. A long rally ensued and finally Lee and Ha won. The entire Korean contingent poured on to the court and the scenes of celebration was riotous. The ground shook; the earth trembled. Mighty China had been beaten.

PS - How I wish I could upload the photos capturing the magic of this tie here. Alas, the Net Nanny is in full vigour ...

13 comments:

zeno said...

A very good sports commentary :)
Nobody is invincible!
Couldnt help thinking about the plight of sports in India :(

gils said...

oh..china thaan badmintonla pistha??!! i thot it was indonesia..super commentary..kalakiteenga..neenga badminton followera!!! chaancela..semma review

ambulisamma said...

No did not felt yesterday,but the husband says,he feels earth shake whenever i try to run or jump.

Ramesh said...

zeno - Thanks. India has little hope in sports as culturally we don't want children to play sport - only go for tuitions. Anyway, playgrounds have vanished in cities, so there is no place to play sport anyway. India actually did reasonably well in the Thomas & Uber Cups - it can't match the top teams, but is in the elite group.

@gils - Indonesia is the spiritual home of badminton, but China has been near invincible in the last 10 years. The number of people who play and the facilities that are there are huge. Every part of Guangzhou, where I live, have many sports halls, and the halls accomodate some 20 courts each. Similar situation in every city. In India, there isn't a single public court in any city - just some clubs which are exclusive.

@ambulisamma - Ha Ha !!

A journey called Life said...

Why did u want to upload photos when I actually saw the match being played out, thanks to ur write up..

Sandhya sriram said...

whoa what a commentary. my god, i was almost biting my nails. what on earth are you made out of.. pooh.. you are absolutely earth shattering can i say!!

Indian sports is flanked by two categories - people who have got in by passion and those by compassion ( i mean recommendation here). the former have the drive but not the means and the latter have the means but may be not the drive. But when the former manage to bridge the gap, they make it big. and it is this passion which has kept us as a respected force (if not a leader) in most sports

Great one this sunday Ramesh

Anonymous said...

Wow! I love it when you do these sports ones! Makes me wanna give my racket some fresh air! Hey wait a minute, whats stopping me? :)

Deepa!

RamMmm said...

As others have noted before, it was like a live commentary on cricket that we used to hear on radio eons ago. It had all the energy of watching it unfold.

Whatever happened to the Indonesians and the Danes?

Ramesh said...

@AJCL - Awwwwww

@Sandhya - As always you are very generous with compliments. Thanks so much. Not much chance for sports in India. Its just not in our culture where the typical mother considers play a waste of time. Occasionally somebody with raw talent will emerge and then sink away. Take the case of Deepika Padukone. Great talent in two sports. Shone at state level. Comes from an illustrious sports family. And then in a cool headed way, she decides it is better to bat her eyelids and shake her hips. There's no way she would have got either the fame or money she has now even if she had risen to be a world champion.

@Deepa - Oh yes. It must be delight to play where you live, at least in summer

@RamMmm - The Indonesians and Danes are there, of course. But China has raised its game so much and seems to have an inexhaustible supply of world beaters that the others don't have a chance. Yesterday, in the Thomas Cup, China simply thrashed Indonesia 3-0.

zeno said...

One quick question? How is that you know about Deepika Padukone? Too bad you were doing injustice to all others :). Read somewhere her still good looking younger sister is still concentrating on some sports![see i dont remember what sport it is :(]

Ramesh said...

@zeno - I knew of Deepika Padukone as long as she was a rising sports star. Of course, only because she was Prakash's daughter. Lost interest, once she started running around trees. Anisha is aiming to be a golfer; lets see if she wants to run around trees too :)

Vishal said...

Wow... this commentary engulfed my attention like anything. Brilliant just goes on to prove (once again) that you are a magnificent writer, a great commentator and an incomparable sports enthusiast. Too much to learn from you for lil ones like us...

As far as the game is concerned, I think that a very little particle is sometimes capable of generating million calories of energy and long-lasting flames of fire which results into a transformation "for goodness of the game"

Ramesh said...

@Vishal - Hey thanks. Fairy tales are not common in sports, but sometimes they do happen and then they leave us spellbound.

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