1 May ’06, Sendai:
We've just beaten New Zealand 3-0. The New Zealand team was at a disadvantage as two of their players were injured. However, in our team, Chetan said he didn’t want to play as he had blisters on his feet. So I was gonna play first singles, which was perfectly fine with me. New Zealand's only real threat was John Moody, their first singles player. He’s ranked 32 in the world and has been in good form. In fact he'd beaten me in both our previous matches. My current ranking is 64, so it would be quite a big upset to beat him.
I knew from our previous matches that he was a steady player with good temperament and a good smash. I started off pretty well in the first game and was always up by at least two points. He came close to me at 11-12 but I moved ahead and closed the first game out at 21-15. The other players from New Zealand who were cheering for Moody were being pretty loud but I was able to keep the focus on court. I felt much better on court in the second game and went up by a big margin right from the start. I didn’t ease off the pressure and closed out the match at 21-9. The scoreline 21-15, 21-9 proved that the work I have been putting in practice has paid off.
Arvind beat youngster Henry Tam in the second singles in straight games. Henry came close to Arvind in the first game but was outclassed in the second.
Nikhil, who was to play third singles as Chetan didn’t want to play, was up next against Craig Cooper, a doubles player who was forced to play singles as New Zealand's regular third singles player was injured. Nikhil won the first game easily but was very out-of-sorts in the second and lost 17-21. He however regrouped to win an easy third game to give India the victory at 3-0! This meant that we had entered the quarterfinals of the Thomas Cup!!!
When we qualified for the Thomas Cup final round in February and saw our draw, we were told by our coaches to aim to reach the quarterfinals as that would be a good result. We will now move to Tokyo for the latter stages of the tournament and will face Denmark on 3rd May. Denmark is a very strong team with the likes of Peter Gade, Kenneth Jonassen, Jonas Rasmussen and Lars Paaske in their team. It will be a very tough match but we're in pretty good form and should be able to give them a run for their money in a couple of the singles matches. But no matter who we play against, we will go all out in this tie as we have nothing to lose.