Former national number one woman’s singles shuttler Tee Jing Yi celebrated her 27th birthday with big smiles as her national teammates sang “Happy Birthday” songs in the stands after she and Vivian Hoo silenced their Thai opponents in the first doubles Chayanit Chaladchalam-Phataimas Muenwong 21-19, 16-21, 21-15 victory.
The Malaysian scratch pair battled for 69 minutes to level the score for Malaysia at 1-1 after Soniia Cheah fell to a 14-21, 15-21 defeat to Nitchaon Jindapol in the first singles. 
Jing Yi, a late inclusion in the team following injury to Lee Meng Yean and was paired with Vivian Hoo when the latter’s regular partner injured her right knee while playing in the tournament – the E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships in Alor Setar – earned a standing ovation for the win over the Thai pair.
Although Malaysia eventually lost their last preliminary round Group Y match to the Thais 2-3, it warmed the hearts of the huge crowd that had turned up at the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium in Alor Setar.
“The team lost but we won and it does not matter who we play in the quarter-finals. We are ready to face anyone. The confidence is already there and more importantly we seem to have got the rhythm and struck a good partnership.
“Both of us are attacking players and we have been able to use this weapon against our opponents. We are happy to have contributed a valuable to the team…this is a team event and it is different from playing in an individual event,” said Jing Yi.
Malaysia’s second point against Thailand was also contributed by another scratch pair – Chow Mei Kuan-Goh Yea Ching who beat Puttita Supajirakul-Sapsiree Taerattanachai 21-15, 21-15.
In the deciding tie Lim Yin Fun could not bring out the extra in her game in her 21-23, 20-22 defeat to Busanan Ongbamrungphan, a former Sea Games gold medallist.
In the quarter-finals on Friday the Malaysians were drawn against seconds seeds South Korea. 
Top seeds Japan will play Chinese Taipei while defending champions China will take on Thailand. The other quarter-final tie is between India and Indonesia. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH
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