Balram, Pankaj, Sajan win on first day

Kathmandu, June 18:

Nepal No 1 Balram Thapa, Pankaj Chand, young talent Sajan Krishna Tamrakar and the duo of Balram and Puja Shrestha handed wins for the home team in th opening day of the Bajaj Discover Nepal International Series 2008 Badminton Championship today.

The reigning national champion Balram gave Nepal the first victory in the afternoon session when he defeated Mohammad Rais Uddin of Bangladesh 21-12, 21-14 in the men’s singles first round in just 25 minutes.

Balram took a 3-0 lead and never looked back, as he extended the lead to 10-6 and then made it 17-7. He lost two points at 20-10 before winning the first set. Balram repeated the first-set performance taking a 3-0 lead, extended it to 8-3 and 13-9. But he failed to convert easy chances as Bangladeshi shuttler Uddin made a comeback attempt by winning three points.

The second set looked evenly poised at 14-12 with Balram still on lead. But with the home crowd support, Balram extended his lead to 17-13 and made it 20-13 and finally won the set 21-14 to advance to the second round where he will meet sixth-seeded JBS Vidhyadhar of India, a 21-15, 21-8 winner over Nepal’s Anil Kumar Lakhe.

Pankaj Chand and Nishant Sinha of India were going neck-to-neck in the first set until Chand won three straight points to take a 11-8 lead. Pankaj — who lost as many as six points to the net — then won eight points conceding just two to make it 19-10, before taking the first set 21-11.

The second set was relatively easy for Pankaj, who took a 8-0 lead, before the Indian shuttler reduced the deficit to five points at 12-7. Pankaj won five more points conceding just one to make it 17-8, before registering a comfortable 21-10 win. Pankaj will face fourth-seeded Pakistani shuttler Ahsan Qamar, who registered a 21-7, 21-13 win over Sahadev Khadka of Nepal.

Young talent Sajan Krishna Tamrakar, who just returned from China after a month-long training, gave Nepal the third victory in the men’s singles. Sajan defeated Saif Uddin of Bangladesh 21-19, 21-17 to enter the second round, where he will face seventh-seeded Jadhav Ankush of india, who came from one-set down to beat Bikash Shrestha 14-21, 21-13, 21-9.

In the mixed doubles, Balram and Pooja combined to beat Bangladshi pair Abdul Hannan and Rani Adhikary Konika 21-17, 21-15, while three other home team pairs - Prajwal Jung Rana/Nary Thapa, Pankaj/Sujana Shrestha, and Indra Mahata/Samjhana Khaling — lost their first round matches.

None of the four Nepali shuttlers in action on the first day in women’s singles could register win. Sushmita Gurung lost to Aktar Shalpa of Bangladesh 14-21, 8-21, Sara Devi Tamang went down to Indian Bibari Basumatary 16-21, 16-21, Sabina Panthi was beaten 8-21, 7-21 by Indian Anjali Kalita, and Samjhana Khaling lost 14-21, 6-21 to India’s Abantika Deka.

Member Secretary of National Sports Council Jeevan Ram Shrestha inaugurated the $5,000 event, in which a total of 56 players including 25 from Nepal are taking part.